CoR interviews PUST founder and president, Dr. jin-kyung Kim

March 2008

Learn more about the PUST project »

Behind most unlikely endeavors you will often find a person or persons who are visionary in the best sense of the word—they see what isn’t yet there, and help to bring it to fruition. Dr. Chin Kyung Kim, founding president of Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, is surely one of these people. Dr. Kim’s energy and inspiration is remarkable, as his experience as an education pioneer in Asia.

In 1992 Dr. Kim founded the Yanbian University of Science and Technology (YUST) in Northeast China, the first foreign university in what was at the time still a relatively closed society. Since its opening YUST is now considered one of the top universities in China. In 2001, after years of advocacy by Dr. Kim, the North Korean government approved the creation of PUST and authorized Dr. Kim’s not-for-profit organization, the Northeast Asia Foundation for Education and Culture (NAFEC) to build it. The government also authorized Dr. Kim’s university including decisions regarding staff, personnel, and the hosting of foreign specialists. The university has also been accepted as international university by the national government.

With PUST set to open in a matter of months, Cultures of Resistance organizer Joseph Huff-Hannon spoke with Dr. Kim about his hopes for the launch of the school.

What was your initial motivation to open PUST in North Korea?

I’m not a capitalist, and I’m not a communist. I am a love-ist! I believe in human beings and the simple things they can do to work together. And I believe that education is one of those things that we all have to work on together, to set the conditions for peace.

Until now there have been no international universities in North Korea, so we want to give North Korean young people the chance to access this standard. Our university will be a gateway for many North Korean students to explore the world.

Many countries and people are interested in North Korea, but up until now international society has been unable to “approach” North Koreans. PUST will be a bridge for their involvement with international society, and also a welcome gate for investment.

How can PUST serve to promote peace and development on the Korean peninsula?

For the most part the international community doesn’t understand North Korean realities. I felt that we needed something or somebody to act as a mediator between North Korea and the world, so our university will be a place of reconciliation. I only see a peaceful solution with education. There is no ideology, no politics—education and knowledge are what we focus on.

When we open the school, and we have all of these international people there that already are helping and when we understand each other, all problems can be solved. We must sit down and talk to each other—we must be face to face.

How will PUST recruit faculty?

We have 16 years of experience at running an international science & technology school. At YUST we have faculty from 13 countries. Right now for PUST we have already received over 200 resumes, people from the U.S., Britain, France, South Korea, Europe and more. The official teaching language is English, so as long as they can teach in English they are welcome to apply!

How will PUST relate to North Korean society at large?

It will be very important to work with industry. Many industries in North Korea are depressed, and the country needs more development. So the university will be a research center, it will train students in business, in agriculture, health, and architecture. It will be very connected with developing the economy.

How do you feel now that the school will soon be opening, after so many years of preparation?

I feel fantastic! To see it with my own eyes is amazing, that the campus is almost finished, construction is almost complete. It shows that even a mission impossible can be possible—a twenty-first century miracle! I’d like to say to our friends around the world, for anyone who is interested in the miracles happening in this place—come to our opening and see it with your own eyes!

Learn more about the PUST project »

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