The Information Age:N. Korean Style
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The Information Age:N. Korean Style

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During the floods and famine of the 1990s, the North Korea regime was able to withstand the death of at least 5% of its population by forcing its poorest and least trusted citizens to bear the brunt of environmental disaster. Today, with one million cell phones in North Korea and a government sponsored intranet, the regime believes it can survive the advent of information technology by restricting its use to the most elite 5% of the population who have the largest stake in the survival of the regime as it currently exists.

North Korea intentionally restricts access to information to control its population.  TV and radios in North Korea are hardwired to only receive government controlled media. Foreign newspapers and periodicals are forbidden. North Koreans are not free to travel within the country without government permission. Foreigners who visit North Korea are carefully controlled by their (two) minders who keep them from interacting with the North Korean populace. In short, North Korea has traditionally viewed controlling the flow of information to its population as a fundamental necessity to ensure the survival of the state.

It is surprising then to see that the North Korea state has sanctioned the use of cell phones and other information technology. There are now more than 1 million third-generation cell phones in North Korea, as part of the Koryolink cell phone system. These phones can call other members of the Koryolink network, but cannot make calls outside of the country. There is also a state sponsored intranet in North Korea, called Kwangmyong. The intranet is restricted to elites in North Korea with good social standing. The intranet features message boards, chat functions, and state sponsored media; its use has also been encouraged among university students, technical experts and scientists, and others to exchange information.

A few North Koreans have access to the unfiltered Internet. Andrei Lankov, a leading North Korean expert at Kookmin University in Seoul, estimated this number to be “a few dozen families” including Kim Jong-Un’s clan. Other select North Koreans may have restricted and/or monitored access to the Internet to gather data on the U.S. and South Korea, find content to populate the intranet, and maintain the North Korean government’s propaganda web sites.

Comments
26
Lg
February 7, 2013 at 20:39

I totally agree with you. They do exist and nothing we can do about it.

Me me me
January 26, 2013 at 00:41

Seems like the people are being given just enough rope to hang themselves. Those forms of communication will no doubt be heavily monitored (pretty much is done so in the west). Makes purging the 'elite' that much easier.

Stephen
November 14, 2012 at 12:17

What, are you gonna personally go over there and remove the regime?
Better yet, do you know what removing the regime is going to entail?
A diatrabe about the evils of a country and how it should be removed is nice and all, but it's not pertinent at the moment. North Korea ain't going much of anywhere any time soon, and fixing that mess is going to be more of a headache than leaving a mangy beast be. It's that simple.

Errol
November 14, 2012 at 04:37

Lean and mean and a lot are underfed. Saw a few AsiaPress articles that showed even NoKor grunts were starving. I know the enlisted personnel always take the brunt of anything, but that was on a whole new level.

Roger
November 13, 2012 at 09:50

Very well researched article showing that is possible to get some understanding of North Korea.  Shines a light on North Korea and a bit of the plight of the folks there as well as some possible venues for GASP talking to them.
Much more helpful than relying on the old "Them Norks is crazy".  But here they are lean and mean.  So we may as well figure out how to deal with the porcupine….

Roger
November 13, 2012 at 09:46

Good point.  However, since ROK recently ended their analog broadcasts only a small portion of North Koreans (those with digital TVs) can now receive the broadcasts.  shame.  So far as I can tell, ROK didn't evn ask or trade anything for giving up the broadcasts. 
 

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