Underground reporters and democracy advocates are penetrating the world’s most secretive state, The New York Times reports, highlighting the first known public protests against North Korea’s semi-feudal, semi-Stalinist regime.
Daily NK recently revealed that the regime was suppressing the country’s emerging free markets, a move that prompted unprecedented open protests against the communist authorities.
“For the first time in the regime’s history, a Pyongyang ukase generated widespread public resistance visible to the outside world,” writes Nicolas Eberstadt.
The regime cracked down on the small-scale but thriving markets because it feared the emergence of independent entrepreneurs, observers suggest.
“Clearly part of the motivation for this was to really strike a blow at the merchant class that has arisen over the last 15 years or so,” said Marcus Noland, an analyst at Washington’s Peterson Institute for International Economics.
North Korean officials also provide information to the networks, indicating that the regime is beginning to lose its ideological grip.
“These officials provide news because they feel uncertain about the future of their regime and want to have a link with the outside world, or because of their friendship with the defectors working for us, or because of money,” Open Radio’s Ha Tae-keung, told the Times.