As you know we are offering you the opportunity to study Korean at a real North Korean University this summer. But you might be wondering as a general topic, what are universities in North Korea like? And how many are there? Unbeknownst to the rest of the world, there are in fact a wide range of universities and academic institutions present within the DPRK, offering a number of specializations and purposes. We typically imagine that a North Korean university would only a narrow and stereotypical emphasis upon the teachings of the leadership. However, that isn’t true. Whilst of course the environment for academic freedom and debate is much less than other countries, nevertheless, DPRK universities do place real effort into research pertaining to science and technology. Here, we explore some of the main institutions of the country and what they do.
Pyongyang University of Science and Technology
The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology is a good place to start, not just because of its name but for the fact it is a foreign supported and administered institution within the DPRK. Founded by a American Christian group, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology is staffed by volunteers who are committed to helping ordinary North Korea’s innovate and improve their lives. Inevitably, the institution teaches a wide of scientific disciplines, but it also offers courses such as English too. Qualified foreigners are able to apply to work at the University (although on a volunteer basis only).
Kim Chaek University of Technology
The Kim Chaek University of Technology is one of the oldest institutions in North Korea, established with the origin of the country in 1948, named after Kim Chaek who was a guerrilla alongside Kim Il Sung. As its name suggests, its another science academy. However, its purposes are a lot more “stereotypically political” than other institutions. The university specializes in the teaching of nuclear physics and directly trains scientists and other staff for the purpose of participation in the country’s nuclear facilities. On the other hand, it also does things such as computer science and has even participated in the development of video games in the DPRK!
Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies
The Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies is, as the name suggests, dedicated to courses teaching North Koreans in matters pertaining to the outside world. That sounds peculiar and possibly ideological. In reality however, the institution focuses on teaching a wide range of foreign languages, with a reported total of 22. This includes Chinese, English, German, Japanese and Russian, as well as many other languages in Europe and Asia. As a result, many North Korean official tour guides graduate from this institution, as it gives them the necessary tools and skills to interact with foreign visitors. It likely also plays a role in preparing the country’s diplomats too
Kim Chol-Ju University
As the university we are offering a course in, it would be ludicrous not to give Kim Chol Ju University a mention! Officially named as the Kim Chol Ju University of Education and of course named after another famed revolutionary fighter in the country’s history, it ultimately is what it says on the tin: specializing in educational disciplines and social sciences. Specializing in educational methods, it also is able to offer foreigners an effective opportunity to study Korean language at all levels, hence the existence of our program.
Kim Il Sung University
We didn’t mention this one straight away as it is the most obvious candidate, but here it is: Kim Il Sung University is the oldest, most prestigious and famous university in the DPRK. It is an elite institution which gives its blessing to the core of the country’s leadership, hence former leader Kim Jong il was an alumni, as well as Kim Jong un’s wife Ri Sol Ju! The University offers a comprehensive range of disciplines from humanities, social sciences and physical sciences.
Conclusion: A spectrum of Universities in North Korea
This article covered the most prominent universities in North Korea, not mentioning the numerous more we don’t have room for! As you can see, like any country in the world there is a surprising variety amongst the various institutions, as well as clear differences in their field of specialization. Some of these institutions above even have ties with other institutions overseas! Of course if you are wondering just what life at a North Korean university is truly like, then we can only recommend you join our premium program this summer!