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North Korea’s Science and Technology Journals: Getting to Know the Scholars (Part 1)

Cowl of Kisul Hyoksin / 기술혁신 (Technical Innovation), no. 12 (2020).

Who’re the scientists and engineers of North Korea? What are their backgrounds? The place have they studied overseas? Who’re their international colleagues? The place are they working now? What do they know? What have they printed? What lab gear have they got? What are their principal areas of analysis and improvement?

Such questions are essential for analysts, journalists and others making an attempt to piece collectively such puzzles because the technological degree of assorted industrial sectors within the civilian financial system or the state of analysis and improvement for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) within the Democratic Folks’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea).[1]

North Korea releases comparatively little info on its general financial system, particular industries or such delicate army matters as WMD packages, however analysts and others could make use of the nation’s open sources to achieve invaluable insights on DPRK science and expertise (S&T). Probably the most delicate info—that relating to WMD and different areas of army analysis—doesn’t lie between the covers of North Korea’s printed books and periodicals. Pyongyang makes accessible overseas no army science journals or purely army analysis papers. But, a substantial amount of printed info is accessible that gives a superb many items to 1 puzzle or one other, whether or not purely civilian in nature, twin use or army.

This text is the primary of two on utilizing DPRK S&T literature and different media as the idea for constructing comparatively detailed profiles of North Korean scientists, engineers and their affiliated establishments. It begins with an inventory of obtainable S&T periodicals and concludes with a bit on its shortcomings compared to related literature printed in different international locations.

Periodical Listing and Particulars

Korea Publications Export & Import Company (KPEIC), the DPRK’s unique company for international gross sales of North Korean books and periodicals, publishes a publications catalog that features Rodong Sinmun, the each day newspaper of the ruling Staff Occasion of Korea;[2] the illustrated month-to-month Democratic Folks’s Republic of Korea and different propaganda journals produced for international audiences; and journals within the pure and social sciences.[3]

For this analysis, 40 DPRK S&T journals had been examined (Appendix I features a full checklist of titles with bibliographic info).[4]

Many Titles Out there, Many Extra Lacking

Cowl of Kwahak-ui Segye / 과학의 세계 (World of Science), no. 6 (2019).

The 40 periodicals above cowl all kinds of fields, as their titles point out, together with such scientific fields as biology, chemistry, and physics, in addition to areas of commercial expertise, together with agriculture, forestry, and technical innovation basically. Included are a number of science journals from Kim Il Sung College (KISU), the DPRK’s flagship college. There may be additionally a periodical of worldwide science information, World of Science, for the overall reader.

Whereas 40 titles might appear to be a relative abundance of riches for a rustic with a fame for secrecy, they’re solely the tip of the iceberg. For instance, Kim Chaek College of Expertise (KCUT), one other of Pyongyang’s powerhouse S&T universities, has its personal publishing home. It produces a minimum of one S&T periodical, which isn’t among the many 40 listed within the appendix.[5] One has to marvel what number of different DPRK universities, to say nothing of the branches and institutes of the State Academy of Sciences or different work items in North Korea, publish S&T literature.[6]

Quick on Info

In comparison with comparable periodicals printed in different international locations, the DPRK publications listed above are brief on particulars. A number of the accessible journals lack article summaries and/or a desk of contents in English, a typical function in journals in China and different international locations with S&T literature printed in languages apart from English.

There may be little info on the authors of the articles—only some of the 40 journals supply any creator info in any respect. Entries within the DPRK’s Journal of Invention embrace the usual subject code (72), which is the identify of the inventors, and (77), which seems to establish their affiliated group. Within the journal Agricultural Irrigation and World of Science, some writers are recognized as “this firm’s reporter” or by title and/or affiliation. It might be cheap to imagine that authors showing in KISU journals are affiliated with Kim Il Sung College, however their affiliation shouldn’t be given. No journal within the 40 used for this analysis contains such customary background info as an creator’s training or analysis pursuits.

Cowl of the Kim Il-song Chonghap Taehak Hakpo: Chongbo Kwahak / 김일성종합대학: 정보과학 (Journal of Kim Il Sung College [Information Science]) 66, no. 3 (2020).

Articles within the journals examined additionally are typically a lot briefer than what’s printed in scientific journals elsewhere on this planet. An article of six pages is relatively lengthy in journals, the place many articles run to solely three to 4 pages. The endnotes, too, are few in quantity. It’s potential to run throughout an article of 1 and even two dozen citations, however most have fewer than a half dozen references.[7] By comparability, it is not uncommon to have a number of dozen endnotes in a single article in Western S&T literature.

The accompanying illustrations additionally appear to be fewer than what can be featured in articles printed elsewhere on this planet. Pyongyang’s bimonthly World of Science, for instance, solely options a number of illustrations in black and white per situation, whereas Uncover and Scientific American, to call two US counterpart periodicals, abound in coloration pictures and illustrations. North Korean articles additionally lack language on battle of curiosity, frequent in articles printed elsewhere, and an acknowledgments part.

One factor North Korean S&T journals embrace that isn’t present in Western journals is political justification. Every article begins with a quote from a pacesetter. Older articles quote the primary chief, Kim Il Sung; newer ones are likely to cite one thing from the collected works of Kim Jong Il or one thing from incumbent Kim Jong Un. The quotations, which might vary from the particular to the overall, are a justification for researchers to pursue work in a single space or one other. For instance, in an article printed final yr on calculating gear effectivity based mostly on the Web of Issues (IoT), the authors began their article with a quote from the present chief on vigorously attaining breakthroughs in superior expertise to construct the nation’s data financial system.[8]

Aside from the above variations, DPRK researchers observe principally the identical format as their counterparts in different international locations. They set forth an issue, cite earlier tutorial literature, current their supplies and strategies, supply a conclusion, and finish with references.

What’s Subsequent

Having listed the titles accessible and the shortcomings of these DPRK S&T periodicals, I’ll supply within the subsequent article methods to make use of these journals to find out about Pyongyang’s scientists and engineers, from their backgrounds to their worldwide connections, data, and the instruments at their disposal.


“North Korea’s Science and Technology Journals: Getting to Know the Scholars (Part 1) Appendix I,” by Stephen Mercado

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