Experts help open doors to North Korea
Professors aim to expand academic contacts
Canada is playing a leading academic role in opening up an isolated
North Korea and two UBC professors in the Faculty of Graduate Studies
are in the forefront.
Prof. Paul Evans, director of the Program for Canada-Asia Policy Studies, and
Prof. Brian Job, director of the Institute of International Relations, have
been involved in bilateral exchanges for the past decade with representatives
of policy institutes in North Korea, formally known as the Democratic People's
Republic of Korea (DPRK).
Evans was part of a Canadian parliamentary research delegation that visited
North Korea last September to broaden and deepen relations between the two
countries. Canada formally recognized North Korea last July.
"Academics have played an important role in establishing contacts with North
Korea through the difficult period of tension in the Korean
peninsula and in the absence of formal relations between the two countries,"
He says the relationship needs to be nurtured in the interest of promoting
peace and stability on the peninsula, meeting humanitarian needs and supporting
Canada's role in north Pacific affairs.
North Korea raised international concern in 1998 when it test-fired a
long-range missile over Japan into the Pacific Ocean. However the country has
been reaching out to the international community and increasing the number of
countries with which it has ties.
Evans believes that the acute humanitarian crisis in North Korea is unlikely to
subside in the near future. He says food production and the rate of
malnutrition among children continues to be a major concern for
One of the recommendations that came out of the September visit is to continue
existing dialogue mechanisms and supplement them with regular academic
exchanges and training programs.
"Here at UBC we are involved in a research program focused on the
DPRK," says Evans.
The initiative includes an electronic clipping service on developments in the
DPRK and DPRK/Canada relations.
"The next step is to expand our academic contacts with North Korea through
seminars, research collaboration and training programs in both countries," says
Evans. "We're negotiating for a six-week training program at UBC for
people from research institutes in North Korea."
Evans believes this is an important step for North Korean research institutes
which have had very little contact with outside countries in the past
He says the work being done at UBC strengthens Canadian connections with
South Korea and encourages a more positive atmosphere for north-south
"For our professors and eventually our students, this is an important
opportunity to be on the frontier of ending the cold war in northeast Asia and
integrating North Korea into the international community."
To subscribe to the electronic clipping service on developments in the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea e-mail CanKor2000@cs.com.