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North Korea’s Weapons Tests Hurt Efforts to Build Education Links

2017-09-14

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[00:00.00]
  • Foreign-supported educational centers in North Korea are reducing their activities as more governments strengthen travel warnings for the country.
  • [00:13.09]
  • The United States recently banned most travel by Americans to North Korea.
  • [00:21.82]
  • North Korea also remains under a series of United Nations Security Council restrictions.
  • [00:30.12]
  • South Korea, the U.S. and other nations have also placed their own restrictions on the North because of its nuclear and missile testing activities.
  • [00:45.32]
  • Britain also has announced additional travel warnings for its citizens, which have affected education links with North Korea.
  • [00:57.19]
  • A spokesperson for the British Council told VOA, “The British Council suspended the English language teaching program in Pyongyang when the travel advice from the U.K. (British) government changed.”
  • [01:15.13]
  • The Council added that it is delaying talks on extending its program in North Korea.
  • [01:23.74]
  • The British Council has operated the English Language Teacher Training Program (ELT program) since May of 2000.
  • [01:33.67]
  • That year, Britain established diplomatic relations with North Korea to support “critical engagement” with the country.
  • [01:45.06]
  • The effort was aimed at reducing the country’s isolation through educational and cultural exchanges.
  • [01:56.35]
  • The Council has trained more than 4,000 English teachers in Pyongyang.
  • [02:04.33]
  • Four teachers were involved in the suspended program.
  • [02:09.92]
  • The Council made its decision because the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office increased its travel warning for North Korea on September 3.
  • [02:22.81]
  • The office “advises against all but essential travel to North Korea.”
  • [02:30.42]
  • It adds, “There remains a threat of further missile or nuclear tests, which could lead to further instability in the region.”
  • [02:42.53]
  • On September 1, the United States banned most travel by its citizens to North Korea.
  • [02:51.67]
  • That ban already may have affect education links to North Korea.
  • [02:59.15]
  • Last week Pyongyang University of Science and Technology released a statement.
  • [03:06.90]
  • The university, known as PUST, said classes had been “adapted to suit the available resources.”
  • [03:16.85]
  • PUST is a private university that is supported mostly by Western, Christian groups.
  • [03:24.42]
  • It educates the children of ruling families in North Korea.
  • [03:30.07]
  • Sixty to 80 foreign professors work at the university during each semester.
  • [03:37.09]
  • A university statement says about half of them have U.S. passports.
  • [03:44.61]
  • The university did not say how many American teachers will be affected by the U.S. travel ban.
  • [03:53.45]
  • PUST noted it expects that additional teachers will join during this fall learning period.
  • [04:02.60]
  • However, some of the university’s teaching activities seem to have been restricted.
  • [04:09.78]
  • One professor at PUST told VOA that only North Korean professors teach classes in dentistry this fall.
  • [04:19.87]
  • The professor said the U.S. measure is affecting not only American citizens but other foreign nationals.
  • [04:29.97]
  • The professor asked not to be identified.
  • [04:34.94]
  • Another PUST employee, who asked not to be identified, said he would not be returning to Pyongyang this fall.
  • [04:44.64]
  • The employee said the aid agency that organizes the teaching trips decided not to send anyone to the school at this time.
  • [04:57.92]
  • The U.S. State Department first announced the travel ban in July after North Korea tested two long-distance missiles.
  • [05:08.41]
  • It warned of growing concerns over “the serious risk of arrest and long-term detention” to Americans traveling to and within North Korea.
  • [05:22.66]
  • The ban permits exceptions for some humanitarian or other special purposes, although they require approval.
  • [05:34.85]
  • I’m Mario Ritter.
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