Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Affairs

Don’t Leave North Koreans in the Dark

| Dec. 21, 2020

South Korea’s Misguided Ban on Sending Information Across the Border

In a nondescript office on the outskirts of Seoul, a man I will call Kang copies South Korean television dramas and documentaries onto USB drives. In Seoul, this content is standard fare. Where it is headed, however, such information is rare—and dangerous. When the drives are ready, they will be smuggled into North Korea, where the programs they contain are banned by the totalitarian regime in Pyongyang, and anyone who possesses or watches them risks high fines, imprisonment, or even execution for the crime of trying to learn about the outside world.

Kang fled North Korea in 2011 and knows firsthand the power of such information. “My trust in the regime unraveled after secretly listening to foreign radio programs,” he told me. “Now that I live in a free country, it’s my duty to share the world’s information with my countrymen, whose lives are based on lies.”

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Baek, Jieun.“Don’t Leave North Koreans in the Dark.” Foreign Affairs, December 21, 2020.

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