First University Founded by two Koreas to Open in Pyongyang Next Week

23 10 2010

SHENYANG, China, Oct. 22 (Yonhap) The first university founded jointly by South and North Korea is scheduled to open next week in Pyongyang, a school official said Friday.

The project to build Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) was launched in 2001 after the two countries’ governments approved a South Korean nonprofit organization to participate in it. The university’s stated aim is to promote reconciliation and prosperity among the Korean people, separated since the 1950-53 Korean war, and “help North Korea develop the necessary economic and intellectual infrastructure to function as a member of the international community,” according to its Web site.

“All the facilities and staff are ready, and we will officially open (next Monday, 25 October),” said James Chin-kyung Kim, the school’s founding president and co-chairman. Kim, a U.S. citizen, also founded the Yanbian University of Science and Technology in the Chinese city of Yanji, a major Korean-Chinese population center.

“In time for the opening, 17 foreign professors will fly to Pyongyang from Shenyang (on Saturday). These professors come from the U.S. and Europe,” he said. South Korean staff will also be able to teach, starting next semester, according to the school.

Instruction will be in English, and 160 students have been selected for the school’s undergraduate and master’s degree courses in agriculture, information and communication technology, and industry and management. Forty doctorate-level students began studying with four foreign academics in the summer. The university plans to increase the number of students to 500 and open more departments to teach architecture, engineering, construction and public health care.

An Unlikely Pairing Bears Fruit in North Korea

The driving force behind the school was Kim Chin-kyung, an American born in Seoul who founded a university in China in 1992. He made periodic trips from China into North Korea and in 1998 was arrested at his hotel in the capital and thrown into prison, accused of being an agent for the C.I.A…

Also read “The capitalist who loves North Korea”
“After making it as an entrepreneur in America, James Kim is fulfilling his dream of opening an university in North Korea that will offer, of all things, an MBA…”

Leonid Petrov has received an e-mail message from the PUST informing him about the following positive developments: “It seems that we will be able to open the first official semester within the next few weeks. The first faculty team members are ready to move to Pyongyang and begin the work. We are waiting for the final approval for the faculty to arrive. There are still many fine points that will have to be determined, but the main issues seem settled and we are happy to report that the North Korean counterparts who will work with us are very cooperative and have been extremely helpful to us since they arrived on campus in mid-summer. There are a few PUST personnel who are already residing at PUST and are preparing the campus for the faculty when they arrive shortly. The students also are either already on campus or will arrive in the next week. That means that there is real progress.”





The capitalist who loves North Korea

16 09 2009

James_Kim_ PUSTBy Bill Powell (Fortune Magazine September 15, 2009)

James Kim (74), an American businessman turned educator, once sat in the very last place that anyone in the world would wish to be: a cold, dank prison cell in Pyongyang, the godforsaken capital of North Korea.

Kim, who had emigrated from South Korea to the United States in the 1970s, had been a frequent visitor to Pyongyang over the years in pursuit of what, to many, seemed at best a quixotic cause. He wanted to start an international university in Pyongyang, with courses in English, an international faculty, computers, and Internet connections for all the students. Not only that — in the heart of the world’s most rigidly Communist country, Kim wanted his school to include that training ground for future capitalists: an MBA program.

During one of his trips to the capital in 1998, with North Korea in the midst of a famine that would eventually kill thousands, the state’s secret police arrested Kim. North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il didn’t lock up the educator for being crazy. He got it in his head that the oddly persistent American — who at the time, among other things, was helping to feed starving North Koreans with deliveries of food aid from China — was a spy.

So for more than 40 days, Kim languished in a North Korean prison. An evangelical Christian, Kim wrote his last will and testament during those days, not knowing if he’d ever get out…

PUST is — very much — a work in progress. But given how close it is to reality, issues like curriculum fade. The only one out there who thought there’d be an international university opening in Pyongyang in 2009, offering the equivalent of an MBA, with courses in English to some 600 students, was the same guy whom the North Koreans arrested in 1998.

James Kim and his cohorts will no doubt figure out a way to teach Econ 101. They’re going to teach Western economics, and finance, and management in one of the most backward economies in the world, one which again is having trouble feeding many of its citizens, according to recent reports from NGOs there.

That may seem like a rather hopeless task, but hope — not to mention faith — is something James Kim has in abundance. And given that he was sitting in a Pyongyang jail 11 years ago this month, who could blame him?

See the full text of this article here…








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