North Korea moves to send students to study in Russia, China

Su Jin Jang, May 30, 2017, 9:56 a.m.

A North Korean university is moving briskly to send its students abroad to gain advanced knowledge in science, technology, economics and other fields, a North Korea watcher said Tuesday, citing a source in Pyongyang.

Ahn Chan-il, the head of the Seoul-based World North Korea Research Center, said that Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), North Korea's only privately funded university, is hastening its efforts to dispatch its students to study in Russia and China, among others.

Citing a PUST official, Ahn told Yonhap News Agency that the Pyongyang university's co-president, Park Sang-ik, recently visited leading science and technology universities in Russia and other countries in a bid to help his students study there.

"If North Korea is successful with its sixth nuclear test and ICBM launches, leader Kim Jong-un may need to change the path of his country. If so, the North will be in need of more economic experts as well as scientists and engineers," the school official was quoted as telling Ahn.

"China sent its talented students to the United States, Britain and other Western countries after declaring an open door policy in 1978. Lacking such confidence, North Korea plans to send its students to Russia and China to push for limited economic reform," the official said.

In this regard, Ahn said North Korea may seek economic reform within the boundaries of socialism, as its remaining goal is to build up its economy after celebrating its repeated nuclear and missile tests.

PUST was established jointly by South Korea's Northeast Asia Foundation for Education & Culture and North Korea's education ministry in 2010. The school is co-headed by Park, appointed by the North, and a Korean-American scholar appointed by the South.

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