This is pretty interesting.
It seems that in spite of how rare computers are and how dangerous it is to even think about possessing media not created or approved by the State, North Koreans are figuring out how to file share.
The report, titled A Quiet Opening surveyed North Korean refugees and those who managed to travel outside the country. What it shows is that increasing numbers are gaining access to pirated media from outside the hermit nation, with potentially life-changing consequences.
While devices such as standard radios and televisions are manufactured so that citizens (at least those who can afford them) can only listen to state-run radio stations, imported devices are able to pick up signals from South Korea, China and beyond, although receiving these broadcasts is a crime.
With Internet unavailable to all but a tiny percentage of the elite, citizens of North Korea are obtaining their information through other means, notably file-sharing devices such as DVDs, MP3 and MP4 players, and USB drives.
Through these means they are being increasingly exposed to pirated TV shows and pop music leaking from neighboring South Korea. What they gain from these files is an alternative take on the world which challenges the propaganda of their leaders.
“I was told when I was young that South Koreans are very poor, but the South Korean dramas proved that just isn’t the case,” explains a 31-year-old who managed to escape North Korea in 2010.
Although there is no Internet, computers are legal in the country and are essential for shifting data to and from USB sticks and other media playback devices. What the report shows is that since computers are still rare, people buy blank devices and use their social networks to acquire pirate South Korean media from people with PC access.
Call me crazy, but if countries like the United States are really as intent on spreading freedom and democracy around the world as they’d like us to think they are, should they not be endorsing file sharing rather than trying to kill it?
Just a thought.