Preston is set to become the only place in the world - outside of South Korea- where students can undertake post graduate degree in North Korean studies.
The first master’s course dedicated to the study of North Korea, has been created at the University of Central Lancashire.
Scholars starting the course in September will be taught about all aspects of North Korean society, including its politics, history, international relations and language.
The programme is being run at UCLan’s new International Institute of Korean Studies (IKSU).
The multidisciplinary hub was opened last year, with major investment from UCLan, as part of its strategic commitment to building a national and international centre of excellence in research, teaching and public policy on the Korea.
The course will be led by Professor Hazel Smith, who is an internationally respected authority on Korea.
Her 25-year record of research on North Korea includes publications, advice to governments and international organisations, frequent interviews by global media - as well as the acquisition of a full North Korean driving licence from her two years living and working there.
Prof Smith said: “Not a week goes by without a story about North Korea’s supposed weirdness hitting the mainstream press. Yet there aren’t any academic courses available on North Korean studies that allow students to gain well-founded knowledge and to investigate the weird and wacky stories for themselves.
“This Masters programme allows students to do just that – to study North Korea for themselves.”
The UCCLan academic was seconded to the United Nations University in Tokyo from 2002 to 2004 and worked for the United Nations World Food Programme and UNICEF in North Korea between 1998 and 2001.
Prof Smith is an appointed member of the United Nations Panel of Global Experts; a research associate of the National Bureau of Asian Research; a member of the advisory board of the United States-based Korea Policy Institute and a member of the Research Committee of the ESRC.
UCLan is fast becoming one Europe’s leading higher education institutes for Korean studies.
During the last two years it has also seen a big increase in interest from students wanting to study the Korean language or an aspect related to it, with nearly 120 students currently enrolled on Korean or Korean-related programmes.