Study abroad program in North Korea comes to UAF

Jason Hersey/Fun Star Reporter
April 2, 2013

Three University of Alaska students will be given the opportunity for a semester abroad in North Korea as part of the Office of International Programs partnership with a U.S. government sponsored program.

The U.S. Department of Defense will send up to 90 students, three from each state, for the newest pilot project under the Information Technology Exchange Program.

The program was surprisingly well received from a country whose nuclear attack threats against the U.S. and their allies surface regularly. “We see this as a great opportunity to educate the youth of our enemies in the peaceful nature of our people,” a spokesperson for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea said in a press release last Monday.

Students that wish to apply for the 15 credit minor degree program entitled “North Korean Studies,” will have to undergo a series of mental stability tests, physical endurance tests and attend a special month long training session in Washington D.C. Extensive background checks will also be conducted before official entry to the program.

The Pentagon’s Press Secretary George Little told the U.S. Department of Education that this would not be a “walk in the park” training session. Students will be required to pass a multitude of what the secretary calls “worst case scenario readiness training.” Students will learn torture coping methods, nuclear warhead disarmament and anti-propoganda deciphering techniques. Trainees will also learn a codeword vocabulary for case of emergency evacuation.

OIP’s program brochure said it is “an opportunity of a lifetime.” However, students will not be covered by the UAF health insurance plan as insurance companies categorize the area as “hostile” and a “potential combat zone.”

Students accepted into the program are considered by the Defense Department “fit for prolonged isolation in an oppressive, potentially harmful environment.”

Participants will meet in Seoul, South Korea to await the opening day ceremony in N. Korea’s capital Pyongyang, scheduled for Aug. 15, 2013. All participants must cross the border into N. Korea at the same time under military supervision. The original plan was for students to meet in Beijing, China. However, China refused participation when a Chinese government spokesperson said “we do not feel the U.S.’s presence in the area is beneficial to China.”

One member of the U.S. press, yet to be determined by the DPRK, and former NBA star Dennis Rodman, will be allowed to accompany students’ initial entry to the country. The U.S. journalist will be given 24 hours to view students’ accommodations and speak with education officials. Afterward, students’ contact with the outside world will be limited to monitored phone calls allowed once per month, as long as satisfactory academic performance is maintained. N. Korean education officials were vague in describing satisfactory academic performance.

After the semester, students will be required to attend a three-day debriefing with White House and Pentagon officials before they will be allowed to return to their homes in time for the winter holiday.

UAF students are encouraged to apply and are asked to pick up an application at the Office of International Programs on the second floor of the Eielson Building.

This article is satire. It is not intended to be taken seriously.

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