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Can Cell Phones Break Through North Korean Propaganda?
Earlier this week, WILLisms.com commented on North Korean propaganda. Now there are signs that cell phone use among North Korean elites is contributing to a subtle loss of control for Kim Jong-Il.
PAST EXAMPLES OF NORTH KOREAN PROPAGANDA:
Before his death, Kim Il-Sung projected an affable image to his people. Among other things, he claimed to have the support and adoration of world leaders (where have we heard that before?).
Posters and murals similar to those above can be found all over North Korea. Textbooks in school also focus on the story of Kim Il-Sung, and now Kim Jong-Il, as benevolent, heroic, and beloved by all.
In recent years, the tone of North Korea's propaganda machine has become far more strident.
응징에는 무자비한 징벌로 Meet castigation with merciless punishment!
미제는 조선의 국력을 똑바로 보라 American imperialists, see the national power of Korea!
미국의 핵전쟁도발책동을 짓부시자 Let us smash the nuclear war provocations of America!
미제와 그 하수인에게 준엄한 심판을! Harsh judgment for the American imperialists and their henchmen!
Here is an example of a recent news release:
New Posters Appear
How classy do those posters sound?
All of this would be much more funny if U.S.-N.K. relations weren't so serious. North Korea is a dangerous force in the world, seeking nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology. North Korea maintains Soviet-style gulags for political prisoners. North Koreans continually face massive and unnecessary hunger.
Breaking through propaganda is difficult, but the Yale Center for the Study of Globalization explains how Chinese telecom companies, oddly enough, are inadvertently assisting North Korean dissidents.
Chinese businesspeople - whose incentive is profit, not the spread of ideology or regime change - have become the most influential agents of change in North Korea. And their most powerful instrument is the cell phone.
In 2003, Chinese cell phone companies began building relay stations along the North Korean border. According to accounts by North Korean defectors and Chinese traders, Chinese cell phones - and the prepaid phone cards needed to use them - are now a hot black market item, despite government efforts to ban them. The restrictions have been unsuccessful largely because North Korean elites require cell phones in order to conduct business with Chinese traders. Now, as many as 20,000 North Koreans are believed to have access to Chinese cell phones.
It will take much more than cell phones for North Korea to become a free society, but as a dam can fail because of a tiny crack, an evil regime's failure must begin somewhere, somehow.
Stay tuned for more on North Korea, as well as a variety of other topics, in the coming days.
Posted by Will Franklin · 19 January 2005 04:54 PM
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