Three Nobel prize winners to visit North Korea in late April

Yonhap News
April 18, 2016

SEOUL, April 18 (Yonhap) -- Three Nobel laureates will visit North Korea late this month on a rare mission to engage the communist country through science and technology, a media report said Monday.

During their April 30 to May 6 trip, the Nobel prize winners will give lectures and hold seminars at the North's three most prestigious schools -- Kim Il-sung University, Kimchaek University of Technology and Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, according to the Washington-based Voice of America (VOA).

VOA made the report in an interview with Uwe Morawetz -- founding chairman of the International Peace Foundation, which is a Vienna-based non-political independent organization under the patronage of 20 Nobel Peace Prize Laureates.

The special program is held under the title "Bridges - The Dialogues Towards a Culture of Peace" of the peace foundation, which has been striving to initiate a sharing of ideas and discussions.

The three Nobel winners to visit the North are Britain's Richard Roberts who won the 1993 prize for physiology and medicine; Norwegian Finn Kydland for economics in 2004; and Israel's Aaron Ciechanover for chemistry in 2004.

VOA said the laureates will enter North Korea on April 29 via Beijing. In Pyongyang they are scheduled to attend a welcoming banquet and will also visit the Mirae scientists street in Pyongyang; Mangyongdae Children's Palace, where children engage in extra-curricular activities; and other places that symbolize advances made by the country.

For the ensuing four days from May 2, they will give lectures on economic policies and development as well as medical revolutions at the three universities.

They will leave Pyongyang for Beijing on May 6, and are scheduled to hold a press conference the next day to share their experiences in the isolated country.

VOA quoted Morawets as having said he visited North Korea six times in the past two years to prepare for the upcoming programs. The official held talks with the Swedish ambassador stationed in Pyongyang.

"Through the forthcoming event 'Bridges,' the Nobel laureates and North Korean educational organizations will bring together a long-term partnership while imbuing young North Korean generations with inspiration for future," the chairman said.

Morawets said, however, the forthcoming events will have nothing to do with political or diplomatic affairs.

Their visits to Pyongyang draw concerns, as the North is under severe international sanctions for its nuclear tests and missile launches.

"We will conduct the North Korea event in a calm diplomatic manner focused on economic policies and medical development without bringing out political statements," he said.