Bulletin of the Academy of Sciences, DPR Korea (조선민주주의인민공화국 과학원통보 / Choson Minjujui Inmin Konghwaguk Kwahagwon Tongbo)

Bulletin of the Academy of Sciences, DPR Korea
조선민주주의인민공화국 과학원통보 / Choson Minjujui Inmin Konghwaguk Kwahagwon Tongbo
Translation and backgrounder by Stephen Mercado

A bimonthly journal of articles from the State Academy of Sciences, published by the Science and Encyclopedia Publishing House.

Cover of the Bulletin of the Academy of Sciences, DPR Korea (조선민주주의인민공화국 과학원통보 / Choson Minjujui Inmin Konghwaguk Kwahagwon Tongbo), no. 6 (2022).

Journal Title: The journal title has various renderings. The Bulletin of the Academic of Sciences, DPR Korea is the name in English. Its name in a simplified version of the standard McCune-Reischauer (M-R) transliteration system and the actual title in Korean are listed above. Its full M-R transliteration, as used in catalogs of the Library of Congress and other major libraries, is Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk Kwahagwŏn tʻongbo.

In the English version of the journal’s table of contents (TOC), the transliteration, rendered in all caps, is KWAHAKWONTHONGBO. The English title is then listed as the Bulletin of the Academy of Science, the DPR Korea. However, the official name for the Academy, as it appears in the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and other official media, is the Academy of Sciences or State Academy of Sciences (SAS). Moreover, “DPRKorea” appears in KCNA and other sources as DPR Korea. In North Korean media, the journal’s title is transliterated as Kwahakwon Thongbo.

Author Information: Editorials and anecdotes of the Revolution (혁명 일화) are unsigned. The research papers show author names but lack other information common to science papers, such as academic or professional affiliations, academic titles, areas of research or author biographies. As this is the bulletin of the State Academy of Sciences, it stands to reason that many, most or all of the authors are affiliated with an SAS institute. Authors may also be affiliated with relevant academic institutions and departments. For example, the author of a physics article may be associated with both the SAS Physics Institute and the Physics Department of Kim Il Sung University.

Subject Matter: The State Academy of Sciences, comprising several branch academies and numerous institutes, is responsible for scientific research and development in the civilian sphere. As such, the fields of research published in the Bulletin range from astronomy to zoology. The brief articles appear geared toward applying concepts in science and engineering to specific uses. For example, Kim Il Jin and Ri Chol Su, in Issue 2, 2022, applied fluid mechanics and computational solid mechanics to conduct an aeroelastic analysis of an aircraft wing. Other examples from the same issue include the application of information science to public-key encryption and using computer science in developing a q-learning algorithm for an air combat game.

References: Most articles end with at least two references to both domestic and foreign scientific works, including patents. References to foreign works often outnumber domestic citations, which generally appear first. Precise figures are unavailable, but there are numerous citations from American, Chinese, Japanese, European and Russian researchers.

Many or most references come from well-known Western sources, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) in the United States, the German publisher Springer, and the Dutch publisher Elsevier. Even the citations for Chinese and Japanese authors in recent years seem to appear most often in Western sources rather than in journals of China and Japan. This may be a matter of perceived prestige.

In relatively few articles, a citation will indicate that an author has studied and published overseas, most commonly in China. For example, Kim Il Hwan published an article with DPRK colleagues and a Chinese colleague in the journal Phase Transitions in 2018 that was also cited in an article of his from Issue 2, 2021 of Kwahagwon Tongbo.

While the Bulletin is dedicated to civilian applications, an occasional glimpse of possible civilian-military research appears. For example, two DPRK researchers were cited in Issue 2, 2021 in an article on “flutter characteristic of trapezoidal wing,” a 2004 work also published by China’s National Defense Industry Press.

Sections: Each issue comprises a front cover; an unnumbered page with a framed quotation of one of the three generations of the Kim family; a TOC in Korean; the articles; a TOC in English; the publishing information; and the back cover. Regime messages/propaganda appear throughout the journal.

In recent years, the front cover shows a lead quotation over the title, under which is the name of the publisher, the issue number and year of issue, and the corporate logo. The TOC in Korean starts with two or three items, each either an editorial or an anecdote of the Revolution. There follows several dozen articles, each with keywords in Korean and a brief summary in English, under the section “Research Papers” (연구론문). Some issues may include a “Trends Data” (추세자료) section. Following the articles is an abbreviated TOC in English; there are no translated titles for items following the section “Research Papers,” translated in the Bulletin as “Original Papers.” Next, there is the publishing information. The back cover has included the journal’s International Standard Serial Number (ISSN) at the lower right corner over a bar code in recent years.

A side-by-side comparison of a page of the Korean and English TOCs.

Publisher: The publisher’s name in English is the Science and Encyclopedia Publishing House. It is the Kwahak Paekkwa Sajon Chulpansa in simplified M-R and 과학백과사전출판사 in Korean. The publisher’s name appears in Korean on the journal’s cover and in English on the copyright line on the publishing information page. In addition, the front cover includes the publisher’s logo: a globe, with a representation of the atom imposed at the top and an abbreviated version of the publisher’s Korean name, 백과 (Paekkwa), at the bottom.

Prior to Issue 4, 2018, the publisher’s name printed on the front cover was 과학기술출판사 (Kwahak Gisul Chulpansa, the Science and Technology Publishing House). Confusingly, the front cover for the 2016 and 2017 issues and the first three issues of 2018 show the Science and Technology Publishing House name together with the Paekkwa corporate logo.

The publisher publishes an issue every other month, starting in January, totaling six issues per year. Issue 4 (July), 2022, according to the table of contents and the publishing information page, was cumulative issue number 412. The publishing information page also indicated that there was an editorial committee (no members named), the publisher was the Science and Encyclopedia Publishing House, the place of printing was the Moranbong Printing Plant, the date of printing was 15 July Juche 111 (2022), and that the date of issue was 30 July Juche 111 (2022). The copyright line was © Science and Encyclopedia Publishing House 2022, DPR Korea, but in some issues, the journal showed no copyright line, ISSN or telephone number.