Kim Jong-un degree
North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un was conferred an honorary doctorate in economics (Reuters)

North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un, who rules one of the poorest countries in the world blighted by systemic food shortages, has been awarded a degree in economics.

A Malaysian university said it bestowed an honorary doctorate in economics on the young dictator, and he accepted it.

The head of the private-run HELP University, which is based in Kuala Lumpur, said the doctorate was intended to build bridges among nations and predicted the secretive Asian country will soon be open for business.

"The conferment of an Honorary Doctorate to His Excellency President Kim Jong Un is building a bridge to reach the people," said Paul Chan, president of HELP University. "It is good that he has accepted it."

The honour was received by the North Korean ambassador to Malaysia on behalf of Kim during a "simple ceremony" at the embassy in Kuala Lumpur.

"I anticipate that it is a matter of time, within the next 6 years or so, that DPR Korea will engage the world in many constructive ways," Chan said.

"Everyone will rush in to offer assistance and investment. I am just a bit ahead of them in that I feel no-one at this moment has the courage to do this though their hearts tell them to do so."

North Korea suffers chronic food and power shortages and, according to South Korea's central bank has a gross national income of $1,250 per person, roughly the same of the poorest African countries, 20 times less than its South Korean neighbours.

Nevertheless Kim is said to enjoy a luxury lifestyle.

US former basketball star Dennis Rodman, who calls Kim "a friend" and has visited him in Pyongyang twice, recently described the dictator's life as a permanent "seven-star" party fuelled by rivers of top-quality booze and extravagant food.

The university's decision was criticised by many Malaysians with some describing the honour on its Facebook page as "insult to academia" or simply a "shame".


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