Technology 3 min read

New Technology is a Censorship Tool for North Korea

Anton Watman /

Anton Watman /

North Korea’s totalitarian regime continues to deprive the population of global connectivity. In recent years, North Koreans had gained access to media and devices like cell phones. Yet, this was merely a means to increase the government stranglehold on its citizens’ lives and information.

The Workers’ Party of Korea is the face of the regime that governs all aspects of life in North Korea. It works tirelessly to alienate its people from the rest of the world.

North Korea has the strongest info surveillance infrastructure in the world.Click To Tweet

North Koreans are indoctrinated from birth, constantly fed the idea that their leaders are geniuses dedicated to the nation and the people.

North Korea Moves to Enslave Technology

Under the Kim Jung Un’s rule, North Korea seems to be moving towards a new era more receptive to technology.

However, it seems the North Korean regime uses new technologies to tighten its grip on foreign content and monitor its citizens, says a U.S.-government-funded report produced by Intermedia.

Published Wednesday, the report, “Compromising Connectivity”, noted that since the release of the latest report, “A Quiet Opening in North Korea,” in 2012, the information and media environment are evolving rapidly in North Korea. North Koreans have more access to information and media, but rather than an initiative for genuine opening, the North Korean state uses new technologies as tools of censorship, tightening the blockade and sequestering the population even more.

Technology as a Censorship Tool

Watching or using foreign content of any type, such as news or even a film, especially if it’s from South Korea, is severely punished by North Korean authorities.

North Korea has even developed its own operating system, Red Star, to block foreign sources of information and monitor users. Red Star OS “watermarks” files, enabling the administrator to track where the content originated.

For example, when a user inserts a USB driver, the OS encrypts the serial number and adds a numeric mark to its content. In this way, authorities will have access to all the history of any file and can know who had created the content, who had seen it, used it or shared it.

Automation enables North Korean authorities’ to strengthen network surveillance (parsing of text messages, long-term meta-data collection, user location triangulation, etc.). Censorship-wise, the internal networks made available to Koreans are cut off from the internet; foreign cellular networks and radio broadcasts are jammed.

The capacity for complete control over digital devices facilitates surveillance on the network and human level. Devices serve mainly as censorship tools to provide propagandist content rather than device-level surveillance.

As a result, North Korean electronic devices are completely compromised.

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Zayan Guedim

Trilingual poet, investigative journalist, and novelist. Zed loves tackling the big existential questions and all-things quantum.

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