The government of North Korea made the momentous decision this year to allow selected scientists to develop joint research projects with colleagues in the West. Next month, North Korean scientists will visit London to discuss potential collaborations. And in April 2005, a major symposium on scientific cooperation with North Korea will take place in Moscow.
In these two articles in Science, Richard Stone reports on his unprecedented visit to North Korean research facilities. Stone encountered isolated and poorly-supplied scientists keen to make contact with their counterparts in the outside world. Despite the lack of infrastructure, however, North Korean scientists are claiming some significant achievements, including the cloning of rabbits in 2002.
Science may also have a role to play in diplomacy between North Korea and the West. The country has reportedly offered to abandon its nuclear arms programme in exchange for assistance with renewable energy technologies, such as windmills, as reported in Stone's second article.
References: Science 305, 1696 (2004) / Science 305, 1698 (2004)