Even the Hermit State is no longer hermetic.
New communications technologies are making Pyongyang’s secretive Communist elite increasingly anxious about the long-distance contagious effect of the Arab awakening:
Radio Free Asia (RFA), broadcast from the United States, has reported that high-ranking officials of the Korean Workers’ Party were informed in February of the situation in Egypt through an intraparty publication circulated exclusively to the top echelon. The paper attributed antigovernment demonstrations to economic mismanagement, but made no mention of Egypt’s protracted autocratic rule.
The world’s most repressive state is failing to contain a “high-tech media insurgency,” according to a recent feature in The Atlantic magazine, highlighting the “illegal and extremely dangerous” reporting from within the country by a network of citizen-journalists:
In December 2009, for example, one reporter for the Daily NK, a Web site based in Seoul, embarrassed Pyongyang by intercepting a copy of Kim Jong Il’s annual message, a critical document that sets the ideological tone for the year, before it appeared in North Korea’s official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun. This past December, Open Radio North Korea, a broadcast-news organization, broke the story that a train headed for Pyongyang with gifts from China for Kim Jong Un, the heir apparent, was reportedly sabotaged and derailed, in one of several sporadic and mostly unreported acts of resistance that would have been unthinkable a few years ago.
Several of the groups cited – Daily NK, Open North Korea, NK Reform Radio, Radio Free Chosun, and NK Intellectual Solidarity – are supported by the National Endowment for Democracy.