“Mun Seong-hwi, a North Korean defector, speaking to someone in North Korea to gather information at his office in Seoul.” Source of caption and photo: online version of the NYT article quoted and cited below.
I have long believed, but cannot prove, that on balance technology improves human freedom more than it endangers it.
The case of cellphones in North Korea supports my belief.
(p. A1) SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea, one of the world’s most impenetrable nations, is facing a new threat: networks of its own citizens feeding information about life there to South Korea and its Western allies.
The networks are the creation of a handful of North Korean defectors and South Korean human rights activists using cellphones to pierce North Korea’s near-total news blackout. To build the networks, recruiters slip into China to woo the few North Koreans allowed to travel there, provide cellphones to smuggle across the border, then post informers’ phoned and texted reports on Web sites.
The work is risky. Recruiters spend months identifying and coaxing potential informants, all the while evading agents from the North and the Chinese police bent on stopping their work. The North Koreans face even greater danger; exposure could lead to imprisonment — or death.
For the full story, see
CHOE SANG-HUN. “North Koreans Use Cellphones to Bare Secrets.” The New York Times (Mon., March 29, 2010): A1 & A10.
(Note: the online version of the article is dated March 28, 2010.)