- The Washington Times - Thursday, October 24, 2013

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was awarded an honorary doctorate in economics this month from a university in Malaysia, touching off a round of criticism from those who point with wonder at his nation’s poverty and starvation rates.

HELP University, a private facility, bestowed the honor in what college officials described as a “simple ceremony” at the North Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur in early October, The Associated Press reported. The North Korean ambassador accepted the honor on behalf of the dictator.

The event flew largely under the media radar until North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency reported it and critics clamored: How can Mr. Kim receive recognition for his work in economics when half his country is starving?

University President Paul Chan said in a statement that the decision to honor the dictator was about “building a bridge to reach the people” and using a “soft constructive approach” to develop relations with North Korea, AP reported.

Meanwhile, North Korea reported that Mr. Chan said the dictator “makes untiring efforts for the education of the country and the well-being of its people,” AP reported.