Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is PUST DMS?

PUST DMS stands for Pyongyang University of Science and Technology Division of Medical Sciences. PUST DMS will build upon the existing education that its students received in health-related fields of study. The most prominent example will be the training that students will receive from faculty from all over the world. Another hallmark of their expanded education at PUST DMS is that they will learn medical terminology in English. Ultimately, the purpose of PUST DMS is to raise healthcare professionals who will attend to the medical needs of DPRK residents with professionalism, compassion, and grace.

How and when did PUST DMS start?

The PUST Division of Medical Sciences started in October 2010 as a small clinic for the PUST community.  Additional foreign and local staff joined the clinic, and dental teams from the U.S. also started regular short-term visits.  During these visits, the dentists began the formation of a dental clinic at PUST.

Two years later, discussions to formally open a Division of Medical Sciences began, and what started as a clinic to address immediate needs of those on campus flourished into plans for an entire department at PUST. In May 2014, PUST held a groundbreaking ceremony to officially start the construction of a teaching building for the Division of Medical Sciences.

How does PUST DMS work?

PUST DMS consists of five programs: Medicine, Pharmacy, Dentistry, Nursing, and Public Health. Only students who currently reside in the DPRK with previous education in health-related fields of study will be admitted to the programs at DMS. Training will come from professionals in each of the five fields that DMS will offer. These professionals will come to DMS from across the globe, bringing with them their knowledge, skills, and expertise.

What are the qualifications of the faculty and staff?

Either a Doctoral Degree (PhD) or a Masters Degree (MS) in a related field is required for the faculty. Additional experience, academic experience in particular, would be an added asset.  In the absence of a Doctoral Degree, you may be qualified contingent upon the evaluation of expertise and experience in your specified field.

What are the available living arrangements for the staff and faculty?

There are three faculty dormitories. These buildings are on-campus, and the accommodations are similar to that of the rest of the school. Electricity, running water, and other conveniences are available in order to maximize the comfort levels of everyday living for the faculty. An elementary school for the children of foreign faculty is in the early planning stages and is starting with a kindergarten, which opened in March 2016.

How big is PUST in terms of students, faculty members, and staff?

PUST currently has 500 undergraduate students and 60 graduate students, including 5 students studying Dentistry as part of the Division of Medical Sciences. Approximately 100 international volunteers live on campus as either faculty, staff, or family of faculty and staff, and about 200 local Korean faculty and staff work at PUST.

Can a professor, researcher, or other professional who is presently employed at another institution also participate in the work at PUST?

Adjunct professorships are available for current educators to teach on their sabbatical or vacation.  Those with practical experience in related fields are also sought after as they serve as indispensable human resources at our research centers.  Courses can be designed in length and concentration to accommodate your availability.

Can non-DPRK citizens study at PUST as exchange students or students of any kind?

No. PUST serves the people of the DPRK and is currently not able to accept non-DPRK citizens as students, including exchange students from other countries. However, we are able to send our graduate students abroad to Sweden, Switzerland, the UK, Brazil and many other countries.

Purpose and Significance of PUST

Are there any problems concerning the current relationships with PUST and the international community, including the U.S.?

Although the DPRK has at times received international assistance for economic development, that development still has not become a reality. Thus, it is hoped that ultimately the graduates of PUST will help to lead the next generations in the DPRK so that partnerships with foreign corporations will help to ensure economic development.  The fact that PUST is a purely educational venture that seeks to educate young DPR-Koreans with the hopes that this will bring forth peaceful globalization of the DPRK has been communicated with the international community.

How will PUST aid the people of the DPRK in practical terms?

The fields of study offered to young men and women of the DPRK at PUST are not leading edge technology which can result in international tension, but the practical and applicable skills of improving the day-to-day lives of the Korean people.  The areas are: ECE (Electrical and Computer Engineering), IFM (International Finance and Management), ALS (Agriculture and Life Sciences), FLS (School of Foreign Languages) and DMS (Division of Medical Sciences). The ultimate goal of all these fields is to assist the DPRK to build sound foundations for their economic independence and to facilitate global partnerships.

Sanctions and International Relationships

Does PUST follow international sanctions?

PUST legally operates both from a DPRK legal standpoint and from an international standpoint, including U.S. sanctions. Supporting PUST does not violate these sanctions.

Does PUST teach computer hacking?

No. The courses taught at PUST are required courses to be taught at other universities in the DPRK offering the same majors. The difference is that at PUST, these required courses are taught by international faculty, who can give an international perspective, both ethically and technically.

General Perspective

What is the relationship between PUST and YUST?

While there is no legal partnership between Yanbian University of Science and Technology (YUST) located in Yanji, China and PUST, YUST has and will continue to serve as a base model for PUST. The foundation of PUST was inspired the experience of YUST. There is a mutual exchange of information with YUST as a sister university.

What are the general terms of the agreement with the DPRK in regard to the establishment of PUST?

Northeast Asia Foundation for Education & Culture (Representative, Chin-Kyung Kim) and the DPRK Department of Education signed a contract regarding the establishment of the school.  The DPRK agreed to provide the land and make allowances for the construction and administration while NAFEC agreed to provide the funds and personnel. The authorization for personnel selection of foreign specialists and experts and the administration staff, as well as the direction of the construction process, was granted to Dr. Chin-Kyung Kim, Founding President of PUST.  The agreement concerning the partnership regarding the daily operations of the school will last for 50 years after which the agreement can be extended.

WHY DPRK is asking PUST to train their healthcare students?

According to the Ministry of Public Health (MoPH) in 2010, the most fundamental challenge for the health system in DPR Korea is “addressing the significant resource gaps and human developmental needs” for strengthening the health system.” Their 2015 vision was for “improved health of the population of DPRK through access to higher quality health care services and healthier living environments.” (MTSP, 2010)

The MoPH categorized the country’s needs into five strategic priorities: 1) prevention and control of NCDs, 2) addressing women and children’s health, 3) prevention and control of communicable diseases, 3) strengthening the health system to improve service delivery, 5) promoting partnerships with international organizations that can mutually support the sustainable development of health (WHO Country Cooperative Strategy, 2016).

Currently, there are about 80,000 doctors throughout the country. Almost 45,000 of these doctors, called “household doctors,” form the foundation of primary health care delivery, acting as the first people to care for the sick in the DPRK. In addition, there are about 95,000 nurses, 7,400 pharmacists, 7300 midwives, and close to 30,000 other ‘health care personnel’ (MoPH, 2012).