Business English & Business Chinese Programs in Pyongyang

Geoffrey K. See During my last visit to Pyongyang, I noticed how Kim Il Sung University students were attached to tour groups with English-speaking tourists to practice their English. There is clearly an interest and need for good language training in North Korea – especially given the paucity of exposure to language practice opportunities there.

After talking to former staff from the United Nations Development Program (where the idea came from) and with other academic institutions working with North Korea, I believe that setting up a Business English and Business Chinese program targeted at younger North Koreans might be a good idea. Initial discussions with our North Korean partners indicate that such a program would be of interest.

This program would allow us to reach out to a younger group. We can use business cases as a means of teaching language, and at the same time, use language training as a means of imparting important business concepts. Furthermore, by focusing on language training, we can bring in trainers from universities who need not be as qualified, thus reducing our costs. This program can be run over the summer.

The main obstacle would be cost of accommodating the trainers. Given the low-cost structure that we are running Choson Exchange on, we need to see if we can get our trainers accommodated for free, preferably in the student dormitories. Otherwise, such a program would not be possible.