North Korea’s Canadian classroom

[We have reported several times before about CanKor Brain Trust member Dr. Park Kyung-Ae‘s Knowledge Partnership Program (KPP), which has recently completed the second year that North Korean economics professors attended economics courses at the University of British Columbia (see links at bottom of this article). The following article is taken from a National Post article by Tristin Hopper, which was published on 2 January 2013. –CanKor]

UBC’s latest exchange with hermit nation quietly draws to a close

The University of British Columbia's campus, which played host to North America's only academic exchange with North Korea. (Photo: Postmedia News files)

The University of British Columbia’s campus, which played host to North America’s only academic exchange with North Korea. (Photo: Postmedia News files)

Two weeks ago, six professors packed up their dorm rooms at the quiet, Vancouver campus of the University of British Columbia, boarded aircraft at the city’s international airport and began the Jacob’s ladder of flights that would eventually return them home to North Korea.

Just as quietly as it began, the second phase of the Knowledge Partnership Program (KPP), North Korea’s only academic exchange program with North America, had come to a close.

It is the product of a little-known relationship forged even before Canada had opened relations with the Stalinist country, and the University of British Columbia is the only academic institution in North America — and possibly the West — to host regular delegations of North Koreans. Little is known of the program and details are carefully guarded from public scrutiny, but just as a U.S. ping pong team helped open Maoist China to the West, proponents contend that one of UBC’s most obscure international programs may hold the key to opening the borders of one of the world’s most closed countries.

“Particularly when we do not have active interactions between Canada and North Korea, I think academic exchange is really needed,” said Kyung-Ae Park, a UBC political scientist and founder of the KPP. Read the rest of this entry »

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