mead berger shevtsova garfinkle michta grygiel blankenhorn bayles
The Hermit Kingdom
The Importance of Teaching Norks About The Outside World

Information about the reality of the outside world is starting to make its way to North Korea’s citizens. The Wall Street Journal:

As North Korea faces new international sanctions in response to its nuclear test and long-range rocket launch this year, its leadership is also grappling with the growing spread of potentially destabilizing information about life beyond its borders and its government.

Last week’s defection of 13 North Korean restaurant workers to South Korea and the revelation by Seoul this week that a colonel in the North’s primary spy agency defected late last year are adding to the pressure.

Highlighting its concerns, North Korea said in early April it was blocking Facebook and other social media and news websites. While only foreigners and a tiny number of privileged North Koreans have access to the Internet, the ban represents a move to plug a potential entry point for outside information.

For decades, North Korea maintained a robust barrier to outside sources of news and information that could spur discontent with its authoritarian leadership. That blockade has weakened as radio programming into North Korea has increased and media devices such as memory cards have become more prevalent, defectors said. Among the most popular content: South Korean soap operas that show a far wealthier society.

North Koreans are the most lied to people on earth—the government does its totalitarian best to make sure that average North Korean citizens have no idea just how poor they are by world standards or how comprehensive the failure of the government’s economic program is. Getting that information into North Korea through all available channels is one of the few things the world can do to hasten the day of transition in Pyongyang and to punish the regime for its unacceptable behavior.

Kim and his aides should understand that every threat they make, every weapon they test, every lie they tell will result in a more intense and focused effort to destabilize North Korea with the one thing it cannot abide: truth.

Features Icon
show comments
  • Jacksonian_Libertarian

    As long as the North Korean police state is willing to slaughter its citizens wholesale, no change is possible. It doesn’t matter what the “Truth” is when survival is at stake.

    • Andrew Allison

      Yes, by extending the draconian punishment for “deviation” to multi-generational (parents, grandparents and children) extended families, the Norks have raised totalitarianism to a whole new level. Is it perhaps time to ask why the civilized world tolerates this. It there a more deserving target for a surgical strike?

      • FriendlyGoat

        Have you asked your Congressman or Congresswoman to declare the war that would constitutionally authorize the strike?

  • Andrew Allison

    The sheer stupidity of much of what passes for “news” these days beggars belief. The North Korean restaurant workers who defected were working outside North Korea. To suggest that this resulted from information percolating into the country is nonsensical.

    • ltlee1

      BBC: “China has said that 13 North Korean restaurant workers who defected to South Korea last week had been working in China and had left legally.
      In a rare comment on such issues, a foreign ministry spokesman said the 13 had the right documents to exit China.
      China tends to view North Koreans who escape across its border as illegal economic migrants and sends them back.”

      Looks like China is sending a message to NK.

      • vb

        I hope so.

  • It’s gonna get real interesting when these internet satellite constellations are in place. It’s kinda hard to block or filter content when the firewall’s somewhere in the US. Hopefully somebody will have the good sense to smuggle a few thousand pre-paid modems for them into the country.

© The American Interest LLC 2005-2017 About Us Masthead Submissions Advertise Customer Service