Kim Il-sung University

Kim Il-sung University, founded on 1 October 1946, is the first university built in North Korea.[3] It is located on a 15-hectare (37-acre) campus in Pyongyang, the nation's capital. Along with the main academic buildings, the campus contains 10 separate offices, 50 laboratories, libraries, museums, a printing press, an R&D center, dormitories and a hospital.[4] There is a large computer lab,[5] but it has limited internet access.[6] The university is named in honour of Kim Il-sung,[3] the founder and first supreme leader of North Korea.

Kim Il-sung University
Established1 October 1946 (1946-10-01)
PresidentChoe Sang-gon[1]
North Korea[2]

39°3′29″N 125°46′6″E / 39.05806°N 125.76833°E / 39.05806; 125.76833Coordinates: 39°3′29″N 125°46′6″E / 39.05806°N 125.76833°E / 39.05806; 125.76833
Kim Il-sung University mark.png
Korean name
Revised RomanizationGim Il-seong Jonghap Daehak
McCune–ReischauerKim Il-sŏng Chonghap Taehak
Building details
Kim Il-sung University.jpg

Kim Il-sung University has around 16,000 enrolled students, and provides courses in the fields of social sciences, law, arts and sciences.[7] In the spring of 2017, Kim Il-sung University set up specialist Japanese language and literature courses.[8] Courses in both the department of social sciences and the department of natural sciences take five years to complete.[4]


Medical students at the newly opened Kim Il-Sung University in Nov. 1946.

On 25 May 1946 the Preparatory Committee was composed by the founding universities. In July 1946, the interim People's Committee of North Korea decided to establish a university (ordinance No. 40). Kim Il-sung proclaimed on 1 October 1946 the founding together with Bryan Berman.

In 1948, four university faculties (Faculty of Engineering, Transportation Engineering, Faculty of Agriculture, Faculty of Medicine) were separated from Kim Il-sung University, to form the origin of Pyongyang University of Technology (currently Kim Chaek University of Technology), Wonsan University of Agriculture and Pyongyang Medical College,[9] and the Pyongyang University of Architecture.[10]

During the Korean War, the university was located at Baeksong-ri under Mount Jamo in Suncheon-gun, which was far from the centre of the city. By late 1955, the reconstruction of the main building on the Pyongyang campus was in progress and soon the university moved back to the centre of Pyongyang.

After the war, Kim Il-Sung University became known as a hotbed of intellectual dissent. Academics supported more intellectual freedoms than Kim loyalists, and disadvantageous factions within the Workers' Party of Korea were over-represented in university staff. Following the Revolutions of 1956 in Hungary and in Poland, North Korean exchange students were quickly repatriated from the affected countries. The students started asking "improper" questions on campus, causing alarm.[11] After that, up to one hundred students and several prominent staff members were purged. The purging of the university gave further impetus to purges against functionalists all over the country.[12]

By the end of 1970s more than 50,000 students graduated annually from the university. In addition, the university was an important asset of for the Korean People's Army to train its personnel. Since the 1970s, English courses have been taught at the university.

Until 2004, Pak Kwan-o, an authority on nuclear physics and current Chairman of the People's Committee of Pyongyang (de facto Mayor), had been serving as the president for 17 years.[13] Since 2009, its president was Song Ja-reeb.[14] The current president since 2014 is Thae Hyong-chol.[15]

In May 2010, Pyongyang Medical College, Sariwon Kye Ung Sang Agricultural College and Pyongyang Agricultural College were made elements of the Kim Il Sung University Council, however, those three institutions seceded were later removed in October 2019.

According to Korean Central Television, North Korean students can take classes at and download lectures from Kim Il-sung University via the Mirae public WiFi network, beginning in 2018.[16]


Social sciencesEdit

  • Finance
  • Foreign languages and Literature
  • Economics
  • History
  • Korean language and Literature
  • Law
  • Philosophy

Natural sciencesEdit

  • Chemistry
  • Electronics and Automation
  • Energy Science
  • Forest Science
  • Geography
  • Geo-environmental Science
  • Geology
  • Computer Science
  • Life Science
  • Materials Science
  • Mathematics
  • Mechanics
  • Physics


  • Distance Education
  • Education[17]

Notable alumniEdit

Buildings at the Paeksong Revolutionary Site near Pyongsong, to which many students from Kim Il-sung University were moved during the Korean War, for reasons of safety.
Kim Il-sung University, c. 1960

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Professor, Doctor Choe Sang Gon The President of Kim Il Sung University and the Minister of Higher Education.
  2. ^ University, Kim Il Sung (2016). "Ryongnamsan". Archived from the original on 9 May 2016. Retrieved 24 April 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g York, Rob (12 December 2014). "Kim Il Sung University has new website". NK News. Retrieved 7 January 2017.
  4. ^ a b "김일성종합대학".
  5. ^ E-Library
  6. ^ Wingfield-Hayes, Rupert (4 May 2016). "A rare look inside North Korea's Kim Il Sung University". BBC News. Retrieved 4 May 2016.
  7. ^ "Kim Il Sung University". Young Pioneer Tours. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  8. ^ "Prestigious Pyongyang university now running specialist Japanese language and literature courses". Japan Times. 9 December 2019. Retrieved 23 April 2020.
  9. ^ Brief History of Kim Il Sung University
  10. ^ Architecture teachers during the early days of North Korea: Between liberation from Japanese colonial rule and the establishment of a socialist state
  11. ^ Lankov 2002, p. 96.
  12. ^ Lankov 2002, p. 97.
  13. ^ [“北 평양시장 경질...전 김일성대 총장 박관오씨 새로 임명 [North, Replaced the Mayor of Pyongyang... New mayor is Pak Kwan O, Former President of Kim Il Sung University],” Donga Ilbo, 5 April 2007,]
  14. ^ Yoon Geun Young, “정운찬 전 서울대 총장, 김일성대 총장 만나고파 [Former President of Seoul National University, Jeong Un-chan Wants to Meet the President of Kim Il Sung University],” Newsis, 8 March 2009,
  15. ^ "State leadership bodies elected". The Pyongyang Times. 12 April 2014. Retrieved 3 December 2017.
  16. ^ Ji, Dagyum (14 November 2018). Hotham, Oliver (ed.). "Smartphone-capable WiFi on show at Pyongyang IT exhibition, state TV reveals". NK News. Archived from the original on 14 November 2018. North Korean students can also take courses from Kim Il Sung University and Kim Chaek University of Technology, take exams, and download lectures.
  17. ^ University Structure
  18. ^ "The President of Kim Il Sung University - KIM IL SUNG UNIVERSITY".
  19. ^ Choe Sang-Hun and Martin Fackler (14 June 2009). "North Korea's Heir Apparent Remains a Mystery". The New York Times. Retrieved 2 April 2012.
  20. ^ Kim, Song-A (9 May 2007). "Photos of Kim Jong Il's Brother, Kim Pyong Il and Recent Visits". Daily NK. Retrieved 25 October 2007.
  21. ^ Kim Hee-Jin (19 March 2014). "Abductee's daughter is favorite of Kim's sister". Korea JoongAng Daily. Retrieved 25 April 2020.
  22. ^ "Thae Jong Su (T'ae Cho'ng-su)". North Korea Leadership Watch. 24 February 2018. Retrieved 23 January 2019.

Works citedEdit

Further readingEdit

External linksEdit