Books for Asia in Korea
Since 1996, The Asia Foundation's Books for Asia program has donated more than 120,000 books to libraries and institutions in North Korea. From 1962 to 1995, Books for Asia provided nearly 2 million books and journals to 140 universities and educational institutions in South Korea.
Status of Education in the North Korea
Literacy in this nation of 23.5 million is reported at 99% for both men and women. English is not compulsory and is confined to English-language classrooms, but English is now the most widely-taught foreign language. It is likely that students are exposed to English only through government textbooks available in these classrooms and in school libraries. However, few general English-language books are imported, making the donations by Books for Asia extremely important and very much appreciated by educators.
Books for Asia donates approximately 12,000 books and journals each year to the national library of North Korea, the Grand People's Study House, and various university libraries including the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies, Kim Chaek University of Science and Technology, Kim Il Sung University, and the Academy of Agricultural Sciences. In response to North Korea's request, the majority of the donated books are in the areas of science, technology, medicine, economics, and teaching English, although other topics such as the arts, history, international relations, and law are included as well. Books for Asia no longer donates books to South Korea.
Project and Partner Highlights
Special Collection for Academy of Agricultural Science. In response to a special request for technical books on pine tree diseases and pest control, The Asia Foundation worked with American scientists at Cornell University to identify a small collection of reference books for use by North Korea's Academy of Agricultural Science. In addition, the Foundation donated to the Academy a set of the Essential Agricultural Library (TEEAL), a CD ROM-based collection of some 130 multi-year agricultural journals produced at Cornell.
Major publisher donors: McGraw-Hill, Lynne Rienner, W.W. Norton & Company, and Island Press.
Korea Representative, The Asia Foundation