North Korea recently established a new college focused on “hypersonic missile technology” at the Kim Jong Un National Defense University ahead of the start of the academic year on Apr. 1. The university acts as a training ground for North Korean defense-related science and technology specialists.

The establishment of a hypersonic missile-related college at the university follows a Jan. 3 order to establish related research facilities at the Academy of Sciences. North Korean authorities appear to be making efforts to foster more specialists who will fulfill and lead efforts to “prepare for [missile] tests.” Kim Jong Un affirmed the importance of this objective during the Eighth Party Congress in January. 

It is virtually impossible for current missile defense systems to intercept hypersonic missiles, which can now travel at Mach 5 (6,120 km/h, or five times faster than the speed of sound). Kim Jong Un’s order to establish the new college of hypersonic missiles shows his determination to develop a diversified national defense program of various weapons spearheaded by the nuclear weapons program. 

A military source told Daily NK on Mar. 31 that the Central Committee sent instructions to create the new college to Kim Jong Un National Defense University on Mar. 16. The university completed all preparations for the establishment of the college by Mar. 30.

North Korean authorities christened the new college “College No. 11” and instructed the university to create a four-year program with five cohorts. Because there are roughly 30 students in each cohort, there will be approximately 150 people in the freshman class. This is a significant portion of the university’s approximately 10,000-person student body.

Because Kim Jong Un National Defense University adheres to the country’s military command system, the college will be divided by number, while majors and classes will be divided by cohort. For instance, a designation of 1111 would identify a group as belonging to College 11, Year 1, Cohort 1. 

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Students and teachers at Kim Jong Un National Defense University. / Image: Rodong Shinmun

Additionally, the newly-established College 11 will not accept any new students this year. Instead, students and faculty will be selected from among College 1 (the College of Rocket Engineering: Engine and Body Design), College 8 (the College of Computer Engineering: Software Design) and College 6 (the College of Electronic Engineering: Electronics Design).

College 11 is different from other colleges at the university in that it only has freshmen. Students who were on schedule to graduate in 2023 will have to stay in school for an additional year because they will start over from the beginning. Officials did this to improve the quality of education, but some students are reportedly frustrated that they had to abruptly delay their graduation by one more year. 

North Korean officials, who heard about the complaints, emphasized that they would give the students hiring priority at the Academy of Sciences, the Second Economic Committee, the Munitions Industry Department, the Munitions Industry Department, and other hypersonic technology-related facilities. The source said that the students were also promised opportunities to join the party and study abroad.

The university is also strengthening ideological education. Ministry of Education and Party Committee officials within the university made propaganda-laced statements that “it is a great honor to study at this newly established college, which will contribute to national defense education in our country…We must repay the Party’s great trust in us with great educational results.”

The Central Committee’s instructions also included orders to select faithful and high-ranking Party members as the new dean, party secretary, and Youth League secretary in addition to instructors, and staff and student leaders. This order demonstrates that the government intends to maximize internal solidarity at the college. 

Meanwhile, the Central Committee’s Munitions Industry Department and the Academy of National Defense Science’s Party Committee will carefully monitor study materials and pedagogy. 

“The authorities want to produce more national defense specialists by teaching them about hypersonic weapon design, production, and research,” the source said. “Starting next year, incoming students will face much higher criteria regarding test scores than other places.”

*Translated by S & J

Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
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Jeong Tae Joo is one of Daily NK's full-time journalists. He focuses on North Korean military matters. Please direct any questions about his articles to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.