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UBC Reports | Vol. 46 | No. 20 | December 14, 2000

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," says Evans.

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 officials.

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 decade.

He says the work being done at UBC strengthens Canadian connections with South Korea and encourages a more positive atmosphere for north-south reconciliation.

"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.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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