Censorship in North Korea

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Censorship in North Korea (the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) is the most intense among the world. It is very strictly controlled 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, and from 2002 through 2006 it was listed the worst in the world. In the report of '2015 Worldwide Press Freedom Index', Reporters Without Borders reported North Korea is second to the worst country next to Eritrea that has suppression of the press, which means there is no change in North Korea's inadequate press situation. [1] [2]

All media outlets are strictly owned and controlled by the North Korean government. As such, every 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[3] and Kim Jong-un. Government of Kim Jong-un still has the absolute control authority over the press and information. [4]

Radio and television censorship

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.[5]

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.[6]

"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.[7][8] 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.[9][10][11]

Journalism in North Korea

To become a journalist in North Korea, one has to graduate from a college. Through ideology review and a strict background check, the student is drafted by the college dean and the managers. The drafted journalist would normally go through a probation period of 4 to 5 years and is then stationed after an assessment.

In North Korea, journalism as a job is to guard, defend and advocate the party and the party head ideologically and theoretically. Since the role is defined as being a political activist and a fighter who can mobilize a crowd, a journalist in North Korea should be a true Kim Il-sung-ist and a fervent political activist, they also need to have a war correspondent spirit and political qualification. Journalists in North Korea are reeducated continuously.

The organization that takes charge of the reeducation of journalists in North Korea is the 'Chosen Reporter Alliance'. It is the strongest and the most systematized organization among the reporters and journalists' political idea education organizations. Usually the organization trains journalists and reporters intensively on philosophy, economics, world history, world literature, foreign language, etc.

Arguing about the contradictions in the system of North Korea itself is treason and would be treated as a major issue that one can not live in North Korean society. Over 70 percent of reports of Korean Central Broadcasting are allotted for Kim's idolization and propaganda system. The rest of the reports are spent on blaming and predicting the collapse of the United States, Japan and South Korea.

The Reporters in North Korea spend their time writing flattering articles to Kim. Kim Jong il used to punish the people who wrote from different point of view, saying "Words describe one's ideas".[12]

After reeducation, the journalist who works for over 15 years and has made a major contribution is entitled a 'distinguished journalist'. [13]


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[14] in its list of the top 13 Internet enemies.[15]

Internet access is not generally available in North Korea. Only some high-level officials are allowed to access the global internet.[16] In some universities, a small number of strictly monitored computers are provided. Other citizens may only get access to the country's own internet, called Kwangmyong.[17] Foreigners can access the internet using the 3G phone network.[18][19]

Internet access is restricted to regime elites and select university students. The state has created its own substitute “intranet” – but even this network is restricted to certain elite grade schools, select research institutions, universities, factories, and privileged individuals. Moreover, the intranet is filtered by the Korea Computer Center, which ensures that only “acceptable” information can be accessed through the network. [20]

See also


  1. "Worldwide press freedom index". Reporters Without Borders. Retrieved January 9, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. "World Press Freedom Index". Voice of America. Retrieved February 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  3. "Kim Jong Il's leadership, key to victory". Naenara. Retrieved January 27, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  4. "North Korea ranked the world worst in Freedom of Press". Voice of America. Retrieved February 12, 2015.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. "Radio gives hope to North and South Koreans". CNN Asia. February 27, 2008. Retrieved April 28, 2010.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. Kevin Kane (5 March 2007). "Private Citizens Liberating North Korea with Shortwave Radio". Daily NK. Retrieved 10 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. "Illicit access to foreign media is changing North Koreans' worldview, study says". The Washington Post. Associated Press. May 10, 2012. Retrieved May 10, 2012.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  8. Nat Kretchun; Jane Kim (May 10, 2012). "A Quiet Opening: North Koreans in a Changing Media Environment" (PDF). 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.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  9. Pearson, James (March 27, 2015). "The $50 device that symbolizes a shift in North Korea". Reuters.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  10. "Cheap Chinese EVD player spreads S. Korean culture in N. Korea". Yonhap. October 22, 2013.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  11. "Diffusion de la vague coréenne "hallyu" au Nord par TV portable". Yonhap (in French). October 22, 2013. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  12. "North Korea controls over foreign countries' press" (in Korean). June 20, 2007. <templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  13. "What would be the role of the journalist in North Korea, the country remarked as the lowest in Freedom of Press?". Seunguk Baek. Retrieved December 20, 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  14. "The Internet Black Hole That Is North Korea". The New York Times. October 23, 2006.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  15. "List of the 13 Internet enemies". Reporters Without Borders. Retrieved January 9, 2008.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  16. "Freedom of the Press: North Korea". Freedom House. Retrieved 15 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  17. Eric Talmadge (23 February 2014). "North Korea: Where the Internet has just 5,500 sites". Toronto Star. Associated Press. Retrieved 15 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  18. "North Korea to offer mobile internet access". BBC. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  19. Caitlin Dewey (26 February 2013). "Instagrams from within North Korea lift the veil, but only slightly". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 July 2014.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  20. Sedaghat, Nouran. "North Korea exposed: Censorship in the world's most secretive state".<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

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