The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST) has shown up in a recent New York Times article, and I’m mentioned at the end.
A couple notes on the article:
- While the school may have 250 acres if the affiliated cooperative farms are included, the actual campus is much smaller, with ~10 buildings built around two sports fields.
- The supposition of leverage is, I feel, more nuanced than expressed in the article. Detentions of Americans have and continue to occur across the different engagements. While PUST got unlucky this time, it provides no more benefit to the regime in that regard than the tourism or other ongoing aid projects, which have also experienced similar actions in the past.
- PUST is not even close to the largest foreign community in the country, as stated, that honor goes to the Chinese
Projects like PUST are an opportunity to put a human face on Americans in the minds of the next generation of educators and empowered thinkers in Pyongyang. It’s hard to overstate the value of that engagement.