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Overview of proposed IT college in Pyongyang

Posted March. 19, 2001 15:28,   


The projected Pyongyang College of Information Science and Technology is intended to produce a technical elite to usher North Korea into the information age. A North Korean plan for the institute says it aims to turn out specialists trained in information technology (IT) and biotechnology (BT), international trade and practical English.

Scale and facilities:

It will stand on a one-million-square-meter site in the North Korean capital, thus making it a little larger than the Seoul National University campus here. The campus will consist of an administration building, classrooms, a research center and dormitories for the faculty and students. All members of the faculty, to be drawn from South Korea and abroad, as well as the students, will live in the dormitories.

The 3,580-strong student body will include 500 graduate school students. Student selection will be made by North Korea and enrollees will be taught advanced courses in information technology and biotechnology.

Park Sung-Hong, president of Jeongrim Construction, which was chosen to plan and design the facility, cited his company`s experience in designing a number of universities here, including the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST). ``As this will be the first time a South Korean firm undertakes a building project in the North, I am determined to design a campus to suit the vision of the institute,`` he said.


There will be three departments -- information and communications, biotechnology and trade-economics. A separate department of practical English was initially planned, but now all students in the three departments will be required to study practical English.

KAIST chancellor Choi Deok-Rin, who was asked to offer advice on academic affairs, said that he understood the Pyongyang college to be a research-oriented school and that he would do his best to promote transfers of the most up-to-date know-how on curricular management and research functions.

Knowledge-industry complex:

The campus is eventually expected to become the North Korean equivalent of Silicon Valley in California or Seoul`s Venture Valley. Representatives of venture businesses from South Korea and other nations will be invited to the college to offer students training in the information and biotechnological areas. Some universities in South Korea have facilities to assist venture projects, but none have gone so far as to build a complex where research institutes and businesses coexist.

Madison chairman Lee Min-Hwa said a knowledge-industry complex is an advanced concept far beyond merely locating venture businesses near universities. He said it could constitute a developmental model for North Korea, which is hoping to transform itself into a knowledge-based information society without going through the stage of becoming an industrial society.

Lee Jin-Yeong ecolee@donga.com