"I studied at Oxford and Harvard. Majored in Western hypocrisy."

This thread could go into Cafe Society or General Questions:
In the movie Die Another Day, North Korean colonel Tan Sun Moon remarks, “I studied at Oxford and Harvard. Majored in Western hypocrisy.”

Now, Colonel Tan is a fictional character, of course. But I was pondering: How might something like this happen in real life (that is, how might a North Korean elite gain entry into a prestigious Western university - let’s say, **not **Oxford and Harvard, but some other prestigious university?)

Would he have had to construct a fake identity? Could he have simply applied directly to an elite Western university - they accept North Korean academic credentials just like any other applicants?

It helps if your father threatens them with a declaration of war. :smiley:

It appears that the US requires a type “F” student visa for North Koreans attending college in the US. In order to apply for such a visa, they must have been already accepted to a college approved by the Study and Exchange Visitor Program (SEVP). Harvard University is SEVP-approved, so if a North Korean student is accepted by Harvard, they could presumably attend there, if they were permitted to leave North Korea in the first place.

Which apparently is very unlikely, and impossible for anyone but the children of elites.


Which is what that character in Die Another Day was.

Two questions here: the politics of visa rules (set by government) and admission requirements (set by universities).

I have certainly worked for a highly respectable university that had various categories to permit people to come and study more or less what they wanted without aiming for a specific qualification, and this was quite often used when foreign bigwigs wanted their children to have some exposure to education but without all the obligations of a degree programme. They’d get tutoring/mentoring/guidance for their own reading programme, and access to the library and lectures, but that was about it. Or foreign governments might well make some sort of arrangement for a customised programme for a particular group of officials.

I believe Kim Jong-Un spent some time in a Swiss finishing school of some sort, and it’s not impossible that the North Koreans would have made arrangements for very carefully selected people to study in universities abroad, at least in technical subjects, just as happened with Russians and Chinese even in the coldest depths of the cold war. There might always be a political argument for the receiving country’s government to make some sort of contact with possible future leaders.

Its a reference to how many anti-Western (or more accurately anti-colonial) leaders were Western educated not specific to NORKS.

Very common in the Indian Independence Movement; Gandhi, Nehru, Jinnah, Iqaal and Patel were all qualified as Barristers in England although only Jinnah and Patel were successful at the law.
(FTR, it was Inner, Inner, Lincolns, Inner and Middle)

I get the impression that schools like Harvard or Oxford like to have the crown prince of whatever, or the son/daughter of the prime minister of where ever attend their school. As prestigious as the schools are, they seem to like the endorsement of having foreign dignitaries sending their children to them.