Compromising Connectivity: Information Dynamics between the State & Society in a Digitizing North Korea

Abstract

In 2012, A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment described the effects of the steady dissolution of North Korea’s information blockade.

Precipitated by the collapse of the state economy during the famine of the 1990s, North Korea’s once strict external and internal controls on the flow of information atrophied as North Korean citizens traded with one another, and goods and people flowed across the border with China. Activities unthinkable in Kim Il Sung’s day became normalized, even if many remained technically illegal. A decade into the 21st century, North Korea was no longer perfectly sealed off from the outside world and its citizens were much more connected to each other. Continued research suggests that many of the trends toward greater information access and sharing detailed in A Quiet Opening persist today. Over the last four years, since Kim Jong Un’s emergence as leader, the picture has become even more complicated.

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