“Illicit” and “smuggled” are two words that could easily describe goods making their way into North Korea. Many products, such as low-cost TVs, DVD players, and other equipment, are being smuggled into North Korea from China. A recent, excellent U.S. State Department-commissioned study, “A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment,” reveals just how much information North Koreans are able to access via such illegal goods.
The study is an amazing compilation of research on refugees, travelers, and defectors from North Korea, which includes face-to-face interviews with more than 650 adults in 2010 and 2011. According to the information gathered, North Koreans are gaining access to foreign radios or receivers that are configured to receive banned broadcasts. According the nonprofit organization InterMedia, however, refugees surveyed tend to come from the North Korean provinces bordering China and therefore do not represent the entire population. Regardless of who is receiving the illegal products, FreeKorea, a site dedicated to freeing the North of Communism, commends North Korea for the strides its people are making. Alas, this is just the beginning of the struggle.