The Asia Foundation

The Asia Foundation

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Books for Asia in Korea

Since 1996, The Asia Foundation's Books for Asia program has donated more than 120,000 books to libraries and institutions in North Korea. From 1962 to 1995, Books for Asia provided nearly 2 million books and journals to 140 universities and educational institutions in South Korea.

Status of Education in the North Korea

Literacy in this nation of 23.5 million is reported at 99% for both men and women. English is not compulsory and is confined to English-language classrooms, but English is now the most widely-taught foreign language. It is likely that students are exposed to English only through government textbooks available in these classrooms and in school libraries. However, few general English-language books are imported, making the donations by Books for Asia extremely important and very much appreciated by educators.

Current Focus

Books for Asia donates approximately 12,000 books and journals each year to the national library of North Korea, the Grand People's Study House, and various university libraries including the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies, Kim Chaek University of Science and Technology, Kim Il Sung University, and the Academy of Agricultural Sciences. In response to North Korea's request, the majority of the donated books are in the areas of science, technology, medicine, economics, and teaching English, although other topics such as the arts, history, international relations, and law are included as well. Books for Asia no longer donates books to South Korea.

Read more about The Asia Foundation's work in Korea.


Dylan Davis
Korea Representative, The Asia Foundation

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