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Crunch Time for North Korea's Revolutionary New University

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Science  23 Dec 2011:
Vol. 334, Issue 6063, pp. 1624-1625
DOI: 10.1126/science.334.6063.1624

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A small band of devout Christians founded Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), North Korea's only private university, 2 years ago. Classes on everything from computer programming to international finance are taught in English, and, in a country where few have Internet access, starting this term PUST graduate students have been using Google for class assignments. But the daring young experiment is facing a moment of truth. South Korean benefactors bankrolled much of PUST's construction and start-up costs, but donations began to taper off in 2008, when a tourist was shot and killed by a North Korean soldier. Then came the alleged North Korean sinking of the South's Cheonan warship in March 2010, followed by its shelling of Yongpyong Island, events that left many in the South disillusioned, and PUST in dire straits. Pressure is mounting on PUST's founder to deliver on his promise to build a world-class institution.