[Documents menu] Documents menu

Strategic Plan for IT Revolution in DPRK

People’s Korea, 25 August 2001

Attaching great importance to science, north Korea has launched a national campaign for the development of Information Technology in recent years.

DPRK Starts National Campaign for IT

North Korean children who are good at something are able to cultivate their abilities at the Mangyondae Children’s Palace and the Pyongyang Children’s Palace, which are located in Pyongyang.

The palaces give special education to gifted children who have some special talent such as for playing musical instruments, drawing pictures and sports.

This year the palaces have launched new courses in special education to help children improve their computer skill for the first time in the DPRK.

Six hundred children were selected from all parts of country to receive special education in computer technology at the Kumsong First Junior High School.

We are trying to train computer maniacs in an environment where they can freely use all systems related to computers, said O Jong Hun, President of the Kumsong First Junior High School, and continued, Although this is ours first experience, but it deserves our effort.

The computerization of the people’s economy has been posed as an important project as a national campaign for an IT revolution.

The special education program started in the Children’s Palaces is a means of promoting this national project.

A special education program, which is supported by the latest computers and peripheral devices, has been opened at the Mangyondae Children’s Palace, the Pyongyang Children’s Palace and the Kumsong First and Second Junior High Schools.

To assist these schools in their special education programs, computer networks have been set up for children to obtain data provided by special institutes in the DPRK, such as the People’s Study House and the Central Scientific and Technological Information Agency. Children are able to receive instruction from computer specialists in north Korea.

There is a severe competition in the entrance examination for children to receive this special computer education.

Choi Kyong Bin, 17, went to Pyongyang from Kusong City in North Pyongan Province after he had passed the entrance examination.

Although there was a computer club in a school in Kusong City, I was not able to use a computer enough because of lack of computers available to the club. But I can freely use any computers here.

The special education aimed at training computer experts is drawing great attention in north Korea as newspapers and TV are continuously reporting the efforts to train computer specialists and on children’s hopes for their future activities in the area of computer technology.

National Campaign Starts in All Areas of Social Activities in North Korea

In the past, too, the importance of computerization was emphasized in north Korea. But it was mainly for the purpose of introducing automation and computerization to industries and enterprises.

But now, the DPRK stresses the need of computerization of all areas of the people’s economy.

A series of administrative reforms have been carried out. The Ministry of Electronic Industry was newly formed in November 1999 by merging the Automation Control Bureau and the Electron Control Bureau.

At the same time, nationwide campaigns to draw people’s interest in this work is being accelerated in real earnest.

Newspapers are carrying articles to explain how to operate PCs and report on the world situation in computer technology development. TV programs dealing with computers were broadcast in the prime time.

Now, IT is not only for specialists but also for ordinary people.

Kim Chaek University of Technology

Hong So Hon, 49, Chief of the Informatics Center at Kim Chaek University, is a representative specialist in computer technology in the DPRK who is now engaged in lecturing on computer technology to high-ranking officials.

The Informatics Center, which was founded in 1997, is an integrated research facility in the DPRK. It is noted for its research results in the development of computer software and programs as well as artificial intelligence.

Our ideas have a great potential if they are realized because we live in an era of information industry. Our university and the Korea Computer Center have jointly developed a 3D animation program. We have high level technology for developing 3D animation programs so that the Korea Computer Center recognizes us as a partner in a joint development program, Hong said.

Central Scientific and Technological Information Agency

This agency operates its own web site to share its data and newly developed technology with people and is the largest scientific facility in north Korea, as it stores 3,000 items of data.

Children, who have received special education in computer technology, visit its web site to obtain data from its computer network.

Although the agency spends a lot of money to collect data from other countries, it freely opens these materials to everyone to accelerate public use of the data it has gathered with a view to promote the use of its computer network.

When we want to get people accustomed to new technology, we should not set a high rate for the utilization of data. Do you know how Microsoft spread its programs in the world? asked Ri Sang Sol, Doctor in the Central Scientific and Technological Information Agency.

Although at present it provides its data freely to the public, it plans to set a really low rate in the future.

Korea Computer Center

The Korea Computer Center was founded in 1990 as central facility in north Korea to research and develop programs and spread the program created by it.

The DPRK has a lot of difficulties in developing its domestic information industry because of the severe economic sanction imposed on it by the U.S.

Leading computer companies in the U.S. such as Microsoft and Apple Computer have not yet developed an OS that recognizes Korean language text formulated by north Korea.

When north Korean people use Windows or Mac OS, they have to create an environment suitable for inputting Korean text.

The KCC and the Pyongyang Program Center have solved this problem to enable Korean people to input Korean text in computers by jointly developing a Korean typewriting program for the first time in north Korea.

As their capability to develop programs is highly appreciated in the world, joint development projects between the KCC and other countries have been accelerated in recent years.

After the KCC had shown good results in developing the program for inputting Korean text, it developed a new program for work in offices, named Our Company.

We do not plan to create anything by depending on others. Of course, software compatibility is important. But we have to have something original when we develop our information industry. For that reason, we are paying attention to Linux to create our original OS, said Choi.

The source code of Linux is open to anyone and people who got it are able to alter and improve the programs freely.

The KCC created a Korean version 1.0 of Linux last year.

He thinks that Linux has a more promising future than Windows. Although there are not so many applications based on Linux yet, he plans to create new applications if there is demand for them.

If Choi’s idea is realized, program-creating groups in north Korea will play an important role in the world to accelerate activities to open source codes and it is expected that closer relationships between north Korean and foreign engineers will be realized.