10 ways North Korea uses technology to keep its citizens in the dark about the outside world


10 ways North Korea uses technology to keep its citizens in the dark about the outside world

Reuters
  • North Korea is nicknamed the hermit kingdom – a hermetically sealed dictatorship where it’s hard for both people and information to get in or out.
  • But the advent of the internet and accompanying technologies means it is easier than ever for North Koreans to access foreign media, films, radio, and even pornography.
  • A new report from the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea details the way in which North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un also uses technology to counter this influx of information.
  • The measures range from death sentences and imprisonment for watching banned media, to sealing off the country’s domestic mobile network from foreign tourists visiting the country.
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How do you keep a country hermetically sealed off from the news in a world where the internet exists?

That’s the fundamental challenge for North Korea, the hermit kingdom whose citizens have been kept in the dark both literally and figuratively. The internet, smartphones, laptops, TV, film, radio exist, but not as most people would be familiar with them. Radio and TV sets are configured so North Koreans can’t tune into anything other than the domestic broadcasts, and the internet isn’t widely accessible to the population.

But it’s increasingly hard for North Korea’s supreme leader, Kim Jong-un, to control the stream of illicit microSD cards and SIM cards flowing over the border from China, which contain illegal foreign media or allow people to access the internet unfettered.

A new report by journalist and North Korea tech expert Martyn Williams for the Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) sheds new light on the ways Kim and his regime use technology to continue keeping the population in the dark – from signal jamming radios to modifying Android to spy on people.


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