An article from Korea Times recently appeared on our work. We would like to add some comments to further clarify some of the statements that came out in the article: “Choe Thae-bok highly commended our work [this refers to the OpenCourseWare and Wikibooks initiatives we have, not the economic and financial workshops] and sent the president of Kim Chaek University and the vice president of the State Academy of Sciences to meet with us privately,” [...]
They were not in North Korea for political purposes, but their presence attracted enough attention from North Koreans. Reporters from the North’s official Korean Central News Agency also tagged along with them [The KCNA people only interviewed us on one of the days. Unfortunately, they were not so keen on the OCW/Wikibooks idea and just wanted to get comments on Pyongyang from people in favor with higher-ups] .
Apparently, the North Koreans were quite impressed by their academic backgrounds too [This point was made because we were surprised at what the North Koreans we met knew about US academic institutions, and their respect for them]. [...]
In Pyongyang, See and his group members taught North Koreans how to use computers for e-training in finance [this is a reference to OpenCourseWare]. They also offered lectures on the U.S. subprime crisis and the possibility of the Chinese yuan as an international trade settlements currency [We also presented and discussed Singapore's model of strong government with liberal markets]. [...]
“The North Koreans [we met - a subset of North Koreans for sure] were actually quite sophisticated people [some of them - others we trained can be very clueless]. They know what’s happening in the outside world,” said a financial analyst who went to Pyongyang with See, but preferred not to be identified.
“The financial institutions we met are very keen to have us train them and help build the institutions ― especially the newly formed State Development Bank. There is an incredible demand for training,” See said.