North Korea on Tuesday awarded an honorary doctorate degree in socio-political science to Chung Kiyul, a Korean resident of the United States recognized by Pyongyang for his “information service.”
Chung (whose name is romanized as Jong Ki Ryol in North Korean media) was born in South Korea in 1953 and has lived in Korea, the U.S. and China. He is currently a visiting professor at the School of Journalism and Communication at Tsinghua University in Beijing and editor-in-chief of The 4th Media, a Beijing-based news media site with an apparently anti-Western and anti-U.S. point of view.
This website, as well as some of his other media work and current academic work teaching about media – especially Western media – is likely the “information service” cited by the Korean Central News Agency for earning him his new doctorate from North Korea (no academic institution was specified).
Chung lived in the U.S. from 1980 to 2005. He did his graduate studies in the U.S., earning an MA from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and a Ph.D from Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
He briefly returned to Korea before moving to Beijing to teach at the Chinese Academy of Social Science. He’s also taught at Methodist University and Hanshin University, both in Seoul.
Despite majoring in philosophy and religion, Chung’s focus turned to media and East-West socio-political relations. According to his biography for Tsinghua University, he is considered a “lifelong grassroots political activist for the cause of Korea’s self-determined reunification, peace and security.” The biography also states that, “As a result, he’s been also deeply involved with the human liberation and global justice issues around the world.”
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