Study abroad … in North Korea!

I’ve recently been in contact with Malcolm Gillis, former president of Rice University and one of the organizers of the first international university in of all places, North Korea. Known as Pyongyang University for Science and Technology, the institution is slated to open in April 2008.

What’s surprising, and welcoming, about this project is that it’s the brainchild of both the North and South Koreans, along with supports from China and the US. It looks like the first batch of students will come from all four countries, as well as others. School will be taught in English and Korea.

This could be a dramatic breakthrough for international exchange in the hermit kingdom. If you look at recent history, such as the collapse of the Soviet Union, the impetus for change often comes from within the country. This new attitude towards a more open society could spell good things for both the North Koreans and the rest of the world. Of course, we should keep our expectations grounded. Case in point: their website hasn’t been up for a while (or perhaps it never was).