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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, June 18, 2001

North Koreans to learn free-market concepts

Associated Press

PORTLAND, Ore. — Professors from Portland will teach the free-market ways of international commerce to an unlikely group of students: would-be business leaders in North Korea.

Earl Molander of Portland State University will direct a program teaching free-market ways to North Koreans.

Associated Press

"This is very significant," said Don Oberdorfer, a Korea expert at Johns Hopkins University's Nitze School of Advanced International Studies in Washington, D.C. "They literally have nobody — maybe a handful of people — who have any idea how the world market works."

Portland State University was informed last week by North Korea that it had received the go-ahead to start the courses in the fall. That permission closely followed President Bush's decision to restart talks on security matters with North Korea, but it is not clear that the two are related.

Six instructors will be selected from PSU's faculty and the local business community to teach parts of the program, probably at Kim Il Sung University, said Earl Molander, a business professor who will direct the program.

Believed to be the first of its kind among any American university or college, the program will open with a two-week session in late August or early September, followed by a more extensive, six- to eight-week program in late fall or winter.

The programs will focus on the practical aspects of international transactions, Molander said. "We are not going into North Korea to try to teach them free-enterprise capitalism and private business management. Our focus is entirely external," Molander said. "The international marketplace is what we're teaching."

Molander's Free Market Business Development Institute, which runs the programs, has offered similar training courses in 15 socialist or formerly socialist countries.