The university was split off from Kim Il-sung University in 1964. North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency gives its foundation date as 15 November 1949. It does not have as high a reputation as those of Kim Il-sung University’s foreign languages division, which trains members of the political elite; most graduates go on to become working-level diplomats or work in the intelligence service.
The university has separate colleges for students of English, Russian, Chinese, and Japanese; the so-called “Ethnic Languages College” offers instruction in a further 18 languages, including French, Spanish, Arabic, Thai, Urdu, Khmer, and, as of July 2007, Polish and Italian.
In total, 22 languages are taught at PUFS: Chinese, Russian, Japanese, Hungarian, Arabic, Malay, Khmer, Thai, Lao, Persian, Hindi, Urdu, English, German, Bulgarian, Czech, Polish, French, Italian, Portuguese, Romanian, and Spanish.
Notable students, faculty, and alumni
- Charles Robert Jenkins, American defector and former English teacher; his daughters Brinda and Mika formerly attended as students
- James Dresnok, son of American defector James Joseph Dresnok
- Ri Yong-ho
- Thae Yong-ho, defector from North Korea, formerly North Korea’s deputy ambassador to the United Kingdom; current member of the National Assembly in South Korea