In recent news, Park Chan-mo, co-chair of the recently-opened Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), told the Korea Times, published in South Korea, that the Internet is now available to PUST students, as part of the institution’s goal to become a “globalized university.”
“The Internet at PUST has been implemented since the spring semester of 2011 for the faculty members, but graduate students have been using it since the fall semester of 2011,” he said. “The students are allowed to use the Internet for their class work and research.”
The initiative, which goes beyond the North’s existing internal intranet system, appears to be the latest experiment by Pyongyang to allow greater access to technology following the recent establishment of a domestic 3G cell phone network.
In international news, The DPRK’s Unhasu (Milky Way) Orchestra performed in Paris on March 14, its first performance abroad. The joint concert with the Radio France Philharmonic Orchestra was conducted by Myung-Whun Chung, of South Korea’s Seoul Philharmonic Orchestra. Unhasu was set up in 2009, and the average age of the performers is 20, according to Radio France.
They use traditional Korean instruments such as the haegum, a kind of violin, and the kayagum, a kind of zither with 12 silk strings, along with Western-style orchestral instruments. The first part of the concert consisted of traditional Korean music, followed by Brahms and Saint-Saens.
In other news, Goohoon Kwon, an economist at Goldman Sachs in Seoul, has recently explained that any eventual opening of the North offers the South a pool of labor and natural resources that could see South Korea escape the fate of neighbor Japan, where an aging and shrinking population has eroded long-term economic growth rates.
North Korea has a population of 24 million, or about half that of the South, and holds untapped mineral wealth, including gold and copper, that’s estimated at more than US$6 trillion by the South Korean state-owned mining company Korea Resources Corp. Extracting the minerals is currently hindered by a lack of developed roads, railroads and ports, Kwon told Bloomberg News.
On the domestic front, the DPRK is willing to further improve its environment for foreign investment, Yun Yong Sok, a deputy department director of the DPRK Committee for Investment and Joint Ventures, told KCNA.
“The nation’s economy is gaining momentum, with many industrial establishments and power stations being built across the country,” he said. “It is a consistent policy of the DPRK government to enhance economic cooperation with other countries, while beefing up its self-reliant national economy. In December last year the government amended its investment-related laws, including the DPRK Law and Regulations on Foreign Investment, laws on joint ventures and joint collaboration, and the Law on Foreign-funded Businesses and Foreigners’ Tax Payment, in step with the nation’s developing economy and international practices.”