Adventures teaching engineering in North Korea

By James Jones, Associate Professor, Computational Sciences, Liberty University

As a professor from the School of Engineering and Computational Sciences at Liberty University, I was given the opportunity of a lifetime to travel to North Korea and to teach in the captial city at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) for the past two summers (2012 and 2013.)

PUST is the first and only privately-funded university in North Korea.  (A reasonable introduction to the university can be found on Wikipedia.)  It was founded by a Christian man who envisioned the opportunity of other Christians teaching at the university. The university and its leadership has gained the trust of the highest levels of the North Korean government (as well as the governments of South Korea, China, and the United States.)  Although it is not specifically a Christian university, the school’s founder encourages believers to teach there so that they can have a positive influence on the students, and build better relations between North Korea and the rest of the world.  The students at this university are the top students in North Korea, and are preparing to be the future leaders and the elites of the country.  All ministries that touch lives are important, and this is certainly true in this case as well.

Prudence prevents a written account of the events that took place.  Suffice it to say that in all respects, it was a very rewarding experience for all involved.   The numerous Korean officials, Chinese and Korean workers, and the students were all very gracious and very pleasant to work with.   Only eternity will reveal how productive these encounters have been.  The “heart warming” truth of what has happened would cause one to have “goose bumps”.

The faculty are an international faculty coming from various parts of the world.  For the summer of 2013, there were faculty from:  the United States, England, New Zealand, Russia, Switzerland, Canada, and Australia.  The typical schedule was to teach two hours per day Monday through Friday.  One day a week, there was a shopping trip into the capital (Pyongyang) to purchase auxiliary food and souvenirs.   (The food was “auxiliary” because the faculty are welcomed to eat in the cafeteria.  This time in the cafeteria also constitutes the best opportunity to get to know the students on a personal basis.)  On Saturdays, the government would organize enjoyable sight-seeing excursions to various parts of the country.  If those excursions are “day trips” (meaning that the faculty return to campus the same day), there is a worship service on Sundays for the faculty.  This service is strictly for the Christians among the faculty and workers.

There is a desperate need to find qualified faculty in the fields of engineering, computer science, the life sciences, and business.  (Normally, it is required to have a terminal degree in one of these  fields.  However, even this rule is not “hard and fast”.)  Evangelical Christians should easily recognize that this is a miracle of God to have created such an opportunity.  However, this opportunity will disappear if a sufficient number of qualified faculty do not volunteer.  (The faculty is all-volunteer.  The only assistance provided is free room and board.)  If you would be interested in volunteering for a semester or more, you can contact PUST at HR.PUST@GMAIL.COM.  You can also contact me,  Dr. Jones, at