The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology turned out its first round of undergraduates last week, marking a significant achievement for North Korea’s first privately-funded university.
The 100 students received their Bachelors degrees in a ceremony in Pyongyang that was attended by the co-presidents of the university and members of the local diplomatic community.
After graduation, some of the students will stay on at PUST to pursue graduate degrees while some others will leave for other state universities in North Korea. PUST said it also actively sends students overseas to universities in Europe and Asia to pursue short- and long-term study.
A North Korean state IT company has approached Russia’s Information and Computer Technologies Industry Association (APKIT) proposing a greater working relationship with Russian IT companies.
The country apparently wants to win business from Russian companies and the Pyongyang Kwangmyong IT Corp. held talks with APKIT in July and August, according to the APKIT.
As part of those talks, the North Korean company proposed a number of areas of collaboration and provided details of the skills possessed by its staff in Pyongyang. Those documents were seen by North Korea Tech.
When he wasn’t taking stunning panorama photographs around Pyongyang, Singapore-based photographer Aram Pan had time to visit this year’s Pyongyang Spring International Trade Fair (평양봄철국제상품전람회).
The fair was twice as big this year as it had been in 2013 according to state media, and it’s easy to see why when you watch a 3-minute video shot by Pan.
The place is bustling with people browsing and buying all manner of products.
As Pan notes in the opening of the video, all transactions that take place at the event are settled in Chinese Yuan, Euros or U.S. Dollars. In fact, a booth worker can be seen handling U.S. currency in one scene in the video. This isn’t perhaps surprising when many retailers and products have come from overseas.
The 17th annual Pyongyang’s Spring International Trade Fair (평양봄철국제상품전람회) was held last week and attracted around 300 companies, according to domestic media reports.
The 2014 fair appears to have significantly grown in size from 140 companies in 2013 and for the first time occupied two halls at the Three-Revolution Exhibition House: the New Technology Innovation Hall and the Heavy Industry Hall.
“The fair is more diverse in style of display than the past, and it witnesses more active consultation among companies for economic and technological exchanges and businesses,” KCNA reported.
The country became the 98th nation to join the International Maritime Satellite Organization (IMSO) when it acceded on October 15, according to a statement from the organization.
The IMSO is charged with overseeing public safety and security services on the Inmarsat series of satellites. Inmarsat operates a global network of satellites primarily aimed at the world’s oceans, which are areas where traditional satellite services don’t have great coverage.
Among the services under the remit of the IMSO is that of the Long Range Identification and Tracking (LRIT) system used by ships worldwide.
Established by the International Maritime Organization in 2006, LRIT requires passenger and cargo ships automatically report their identity and location at least four times a day. The system was intended to aid in the global identification and tracking of ships and is part of the shipping industry’s answer to piracy.
North Korea might have something to gain from participating in an international monitoring system for shipping. Much like it notifies authorities of satellite launches, adding satellite tracking to its ships enables the country to claim it follows international rules and regulations.
Back in 2011 a North Korean LRIT website appeared, but at the time it wasn’t functioning properly.
The IMSO also overseas the Global Maritime Distress and Safety System (GMDSS), maritime safety information broadcasts, some aeronautical safety services, and distress alert and search and rescue coordination.
North Korea began construction this week on a new industrial zone in Kaesong that it hopes will attract high-tech companies.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the Kaesong Hi-Tech Industrial Park took place on Monday, less than a month after three foreign companies signed a deal with the government to work on design and construction of the park.
North Korea’s state media hasn’t said much about its plans for the zone since it announced it at an international conference on special economic zones that took place in Pyongyang in October.
But this week, state media reported on both the high-tech park and ground breaking.
“The park will have an IT center, hotel, dwelling houses, school and other buildings, as well as a power plant,” the Korean Central News Agency said in a report.
A month ago when the project was first disclosed, KCNA named three companies that had signed on to design and develop the park. They were Singapore’s Jurong Consultants, a building design and management company, and OKP Holdings, a construction and road maintenance company, and Hong Kong’s P&T Architects and Engineers.
This week, KCNA said the park is being built by an organization called the “Peace and Economy Development Group.” The group, the news agency said, is made up of companies from Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, the Middle East and Africa.
It named two staff members of the group. Jang Su Nam, who was named a “representative,” and Heh Teck Siong, the general manager.
The exact location of the high-tech zone wasn’t disclosed in a Korean Central News Agency report, but it would make logistic sense for it to be within reach of the infrastructure built for the general-purpose Kaesong Industrial Complex, which opened in 2005.
North Korea recently reopened the existing Kaesong Industrial Complex after a five-month long work halt prompted by tensions between North and South Korea.
The North Korean government appears to be planning a high-tech industrial park close to the current industrial park at Kaesong, on the North-South border.
No official announcement of the project had been made, but on Thursday the state-run Korean Central News Agency said several foreign companies would be investing on such a park.
The companies listed in the brief news article include Singapore’s Jurong Consultants, a building design and management company, and OKP Holdings, a construction and road maintenance company, and Hong Kong’s P&T Architects and Engineers.
To-date, none of the companies have the project listed on their websites and attempts to contact them for information were unsuccessful.
“The consortium agreed with the DPRK’s related organs on collaboration in building the Kaesong Hi-Tech Industrial Park and Highway Toll Road from Capital Airport to Pyongyang City,” KCNA said. “The projects will soon begin.”
The announcement by KCNA comes as an international conference on special economic zones was wrapping up in Pyongyang.
The newly formed Korea Economic Development Association (KEDA) ran the conference, which brought domestic participants together with attendees from several overseas universities.
“The conference takes place at a time when the DPRK is paying deep attention to developing special economic zones in local areas, as the Rason Economic and Trade Zone,” KCNA quoted Ri Chol Sok, vice-president of KEDA, as saying.
A high-tech industrial park at Kaesong would appear to be an attempt to bring some of South Korea’s tech manufacturing industry to the city, which lies just over the border and was a former capital of Korea.
LG Display, the flat-panel display manufacturer associated with LG Electronics, has one of the world’s biggest LCD (liquid crystal display) factories just south of the border in Paju so high-tech manufacturing in the border zone isn’t unheard of.
However, the North Korean government might find it difficult to attract companies given the summer’s problems at the existing Kaesong Industrial Park. The park has only just begun operating again after being closed for five months as the result of North Korea’s withdraw of workers in May.
Competition in the high-tech industry is cut throat and companies cannot typically afford a single day’s shutdown without incurring sizable losses. A multi-month shutdown could spell disaster for a company’s market share.