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Distance education boom rapidly spreading in N. Korea: report

All Headlines 15:57 October 18, 2018

SEOUL, Oct. 18 (Yonhap) -- Web-based distance learning is growing in popularity in North Korea, a magazine report said Thursday, as the North's regime has stressed the importance of education after declaring a shift in its policy focus to the economy early this year.

The October issue of Pyongyang's monthly propaganda magazine Kumsugangsan ran a special report on the spread of online learning among North Koreans and a related interview with Ri Yong-chol, deputy chief of the Education Commission.

Ri said in the interview that the expectations and interest of North Korean workers for distance education programs run by Kim Il Sung University, Kim Chaek University of Technology and many other institutions are very high.

"The number of prospective students for distance learning courses at universities is growing at an explosive rate. Distance learning is a good education format that meets the enthusiasm of learning by a wide range of workers and a shortcut to realizing the high goal of universal science and technology education," Ri was quoted as saying.

Photos run by Pyongyang's propaganda magazine Kumsugangsan in its October issue indicate a distance education boom spreading among North Koreans. (Yonhap)

A Kumsugangsan reporter who interviewed Ri said that nationwide online learning networks and the number of universities offering distance education programs have rapidly increased under the guidance of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. The reporter also noted that all North Koreans, including workers, technicians, housewives, soldiers and disabled people, are benefiting from the universal distance education system.

The magazine also ran photos of students wearing headphones to listen to lectures in a classroom full of computers and ordinary citizens listening to lectures on their smartphones on a bus.

Kim Chaek University of Technology reportedly introduced the North's first distance education program, with Kim Il Sung University and other major universities following suit.

The Korean Central Broadcasting Station reported early this month that Kim Chaek University of Technology has produced about 500 graduates from its distance education program since 2015.

"North Korean leader Kim appears to have emphasized the importance of distance education after shifting his policy goal to the economy in April. The North appears to invest intensively in science and education to achieve the goal," a professor at South Korea's Kyungnam University said.

He said North Korea watchers share the view that the North's information and communication technology infrastructure necessary to spread distance education programs has already reached considerable levels.


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