2010: Reflecting on Progress for the Year

  Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary, Mr Dennis Richardson, present a plaque to the author of the winning Emerging Scholars article Geoffrey See (Photo: Darren Boyd, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific)

Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade Secretary, Mr Dennis Richardson, present a plaque to the author of the winning Emerging Scholars article Geoffrey See (Photo: Darren Boyd, ANU College of Asia and the Pacific)

As the year comes to a close and we conduct our annual review, I would like to take some time to thank all supporters of our work. Projects in North Korea are never easy to support, execute or sustain but I feel that we have made some progress in this area. It is thankless work that is still much needed. And it is work made possible by the many supporters we have.

As 2011 approaches, we are planning exciting new programs building on our previous work and findings from on-the-ground interviews. We plan to build more linkages between streams of programs to increase our effectiveness, develop our overseas program component, and focus on targeting programs at specific institutions to raise the impact of our programs. We also have a strong pool of partner institutions and lecturers who can lead high-quality workshops in our target fields of business, economics and law.

For 2010, we are proud of our achievements both in North Korea and outside. We introduced OpenCourseWare into the higher education system, and held finance and economic strategy workshops for participants from Kim Il Sung University, the State Development Bank, Koryo Bank and Daesong Bank. We also disseminated materials on State-Owned Enterprises restructuring to interested partners. Externally, we began exploring a pilot internship program for young North Koreans which we want to use to gain feedback for a more structured program that is in the works.

We also presented non-proprietary information on our work to a selective audience in government, international organizations, academia and business in Australia, Singapore, the US, China, Sweden, Switzerland and South Korea (see picture above). Through these discussions, we have strengthened the network that underlays our model.

However, there is more that can be done and things that can be done better. We did not receive visas for some lecturers and we raised this issue with our North Korean partner. After reviewing the situation, we decided that we need work with various partners in order to choose those who can deliver. We have developed an operating model to do so, and will continue to test and refine this model. Technical barriers to staying in touch with those we met in Pyongyang is also an issue that we have started to address.

For 2011, we are now putting together our projected plans and materials for sponsorship. Funding is the most crucial missing link and we hope to focus more on this in the coming year.