Texas A&M University has been asked for help by North Korea’s only private institution to improve agriculture in the isolated country, which has been afflicted by severe food shortages.
A delegation from the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, which was founded by Christian evangelicals and opened in 2010, is looking for assistance from about 10 US universities on areas such as nutrition and food security, according to a report from Reuters. The names of the other US universities have been kept private.
Edward Price, director of Texas A&M’s Center on Conflict and Development in the Department of Agricultural Economics, was quoted as saying that the endeavour was “as much a scholarly engagement as an altruistic engagement”.
"We are driven by the notion that food security is fundamental to peace,” he said.
The BBC investigated the Pyongyang university in a documentary that aired in 2014. Classes were held in English, many lecturers were American, and the students – hand-picked members of the future North Korean elite – were taught about business and capitalism, officially to help modernise the country.
But reporters found the students themselves had been so isolated from the rest of the world than not one claimed to have heard of Michael Jackson. International news, email and social media were off limits, and the students sang songs of devotion to the leader Kim Jong-un as they marched to breakfast.