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Sanctions on North Korea Affect a Private University


Students attend a seminar at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in October 2011.

Students attend a seminar at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology in October 2011.


Pyongyang University of Science and Technology is North Korea’s first privately funded university. It opened in 2010. But, the head of the school says the university is facing financial difficulties because of international sanctions against North Korea.

Chan-Mo Park is the university’s chancellor. He is a former computer science professor at the University of Maryland and a U.S. citizen who was born in South Korea.

Chancellor of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology Chan-Mo Park seen in this 2012 photo.

Chancellor of the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology Chan-Mo Park seen in this 2012 photo.

He told VOA on Wednesday, “We want to recruit South Korean professors, but the May 24 measure blocks it.”

He was referring to trade and exchange sanctions South Korea made against North Korea on May 24, 2010. The sanctions came after South Korea accused the North of sinking one of its naval boats and claiming the lives of 46 sailors.

North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests earlier this year have further isolated the country. In March, a United Nations Security Council resolution placed further restrictions on North Korea’s financial activity.

The school chancellor says that despite international tensions, the university is growing. It is largely supported by Western-based Evangelical Christians. It currently hosts about 500 enrolled students and 100 professors. Some are U.S. citizens.

Park says the school offers North Korean students rare opportunities to engage with Western-trained scientists.

“We were doing a virtual reality class and some students turned in materials about American hip hop music for their homework,” said Park. He described students as eager to learn about the outside world.

Critics argue the institution could help the North Korean government further develop nuclear technology. Park said this is not the case. He said the school’s curriculum meets U.S. regulations.

I’m Mario Ritter.

Ham Jiha reported this story for VOANews.com. Mario Ritter adapted the report for Learning English. Kelly Jean Kelly was the editor.

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Words in This Story

recruit v. to find the right person to fill a position, job or place in a class

Isolated adj. apart from others, alone

virtual reality n. meaning images, sounds and experiences created by a computer that are meant to appear as an artificial world

hip hopn. rap music

curriculum n. the classes taught by a school, college or university

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