North Korean university facing financial difficulties

Pyongyang University of Science and Technology was established with the cooperation of North and South Korean institutions.
By Elizabeth Shim  |  April 7, 2016 at 1:06 PM
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SEOUL, April 7 (UPI) -- The founder of a unique university in North Korea is under scrutiny after the university suffered a series of financial difficulties, according to a source in the country.

Kim Chin-kyung, a U.S. citizen, founded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology with the cooperation of North and South Korean institutions, South Korean news service CBS No Cut News reported.

But the North Korean government is looking to replace Kim.

The source said dwindling funds from South Korea and the United States have contributed to the financial shortfall at the university.

PUST used to operate on a $100,000 monthly budget but that number was down to $50,000, the source said.

A loan Kim secured to build facilities on campus in late 2000 has yet to be paid, and an agreement to replace a 60,000-volt transformer at the school by Oct. 10, 2015, the anniversary to commemorate the founding of the Workers' Party of Korea, was never fulfilled, according to the source.

Kim has also run into conflict with the university for his lack of willingness to retire, despite the fact he is over 80, the age of retirement for most North Koreans.

"The North Korean authorities hope that Kim resigns," the source said.

North Korea allowed the university to be built in March 2001 in cooperation with the South's Northeast Asia Foundation for Education and Culture.

Construction began in 2003, and the grounds include dormitories, a research and development center -- a total of 17 buildings.

The student population is estimated to be around 600.

Despite the challenges, however, PUST issued a news release in March, stating that it is planning more expansions, including creating departments in architecture and classes in medicine, according to website North Korea Tech.

The BBC produced a documentary on the school in 2014.

Educating North Korea - BBC HD Panorama 2014 Documentary from YOVEL on Vimeo.

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