Censorship in North Korea

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North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) has a high degree of censorship and no de facto freedom of the press. Censorship in North Korea is very pervasive and strictly enforced by the government. It is routinely at the bottom of the World Press Freedom Index Rankings published annually by Reporters Without Borders. From 2007 to 2013 North Korea has been listed second last of the 177 countries (Eritrea is last), and from 2002 through 2006 it was listed the worst in the world.[1]

All media outlets are strictly owned and controlled by the North Korean government. As such, all media in North Korea gets its news from the Korean Central News Agency. The media dedicates a large portion of its resources toward political propaganda and promoting the personality cult of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il[2] and Kim Jong-un.

Radio and television censorship[edit]

Further information: Radio jamming in Korea

Radio or television sets, which can be bought in North Korea, are preset to receive only the government frequencies and sealed with a label to prevent tampering with the equipment. It is a serious criminal offence to manipulate the sets and receive radio or television broadcasts from outside North Korea. In a party campaign in 2003, the head of each party cell in neighborhoods and villages received instructions to verify the seals on all radio sets.[3]

As North and South Korea use different television systems (PAL and NTSC respectively), it is not possible to view broadcasts across the border between the two countries.[citation needed]

According to the Daily NK, it is possible to broadcast news for North Korea through short-wave radio. Possessing a short-wave radio is against the law in North Korea, but the radios are allegedly confiscated and resold by corrupted agents of secret police.[4]

"A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment", a study commissioned by the U.S. State Department and conducted by InterMedia and released May 10, 2012, shows that despite extremely strict regulations and draconian penalties North Koreans, particularly elite elements, have increasing access to news and other media outside the state-controlled media authorized by the government. While access to the internet is tightly controlled, radio and DVDs are common media accessed, and in border areas, television.[5][6] Up to one in two urban households own a Notel (also called Notetel), a portable media player made in China which has been popular in North Korea since about 2005 and was legalized in 2014, and has been credited with facilitating the extension of the "Korean_Wave" (Hallyu, the increase of the popularity of South Korean pop culture internationally) into North Korea.[7][8][9]

Internet enemies[edit]

Further information: Internet in North Korea

In 2006, Reporters Without Borders (Julien Pain, head of the Internet desk at Reporters Without Borders) described North Korea as the world’s worst Internet black hole[10] in its list of the top 13 Internet enemies.[11]

Internet access is not generally available in North Korea. Only very few high-level officials are allowed to access the global internet.[12] In some universities there is small number of strictly monitored internet computers. All other citizens may only get access to the country's own intranet, called Kwangmyong.[13] Foreigners can access the internet using the 3G phone network.[14][15]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Worldwide press freedom index". Reporters Without Borders. Retrieved January 9, 2008. 
  2. ^ "Kim Jong Il’s leadership, key to victory". Naenara. Retrieved January 27, 2006. 
  3. ^ "Radio gives hope to North and South Koreans". CNN Asia. February 27, 2008. Retrieved April 28, 2010. 
  4. ^ Kevin Kane (5 March 2007). "Private Citizens Liberating North Korea with Shortwave Radio". Daily NK. Retrieved 10 July 2014. 
  5. ^ "Illicit access to foreign media is changing North Koreans’ worldview, study says". The Washington Post. Associated Press. May 10, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2012. 
  6. ^ Nat Kretchun; Jane Kim (May 10, 2012). "A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment". InterMedia. Retrieved May 10, 2012. The primary focus of the study was on the ability of North Koreans to access outside information from foreign sources through a variety of media, communication technologies and personal sources. The relationship between information exposure on North Koreans’ perceptions of the outside world and their own country was also analyzed. 
  7. ^ Pearson, James (March 27, 2015). "The $50 device that symbolizes a shift in North Korea". Reuters. 
  8. ^ "Cheap Chinese EVD player spreads S. Korean culture in N. Korea". Yonhap. October 22, 2013. 
  9. ^ "Diffusion de la vague coréenne "hallyu" au Nord par TV portable". Yonhap (in French). October 22, 2013. 
  10. ^ "The Internet Black Hole That Is North Korea". The New York Times. October 23, 2006. 
  11. ^ "List of the 13 Internet enemies". Reporters Without Borders. Retrieved January 9, 2008. 
  12. ^ "Freedom of the Press: North Korea". Freedom House. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  13. ^ Eric Talmadge (23 February 2014). "North Korea: Where the Internet has just 5,500 sites". Toronto Star. Associated Press. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  14. ^ "North Korea to offer mobile internet access". BBC. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  15. ^ Caitlin Dewey (26 February 2013). "Instagrams from within North Korea lift the veil, but only slightly". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 

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