Chronicle: Why North Koreans Deserve Opportunities to Study Abroad


The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published an op-ed on why we think North Koreans deserve opportunities to study overseas.

In the early 1980s, Theodore Schultz, a Chicago economist and Nobel laureate, visited a China that was just opening up. Impressed by his translator during the trip, he offered the young man an opportunity to attend the University of Chicago's doctoral program in economics. Thirty years later, the young man, Justin Lin, who helped built one of the top economics department in China at Peking University, became the first chief economist of the World Bank from Asia. Without that scholarship, things might have turned out very differently for Justin Lin, Peking University, and the World Bank.

Today, we have North Korea, an isolated country with young people equally curious about business, finance, and economics, and in a system similar to China's in the 70s or 80s. On my first trip to Pyongyang, in 2007, a student from Kim Il Sung University, North Korea's leading university, told me that she wanted to join a trading company to prove that women can be great business leaders. She asked if I could bring economics or business textbooks for her the next time I visited the country. Her example shows there is a hunger for knowledge in the isolated country. And with international-education opportunities, some of these people could become globally integrated and enlightened leaders.