March 13, 2013
North Korea Gets 3G And Twitter
If you read my posts regularly, then you know that I talked about Dennis Rodman going to North Korea and participating in an exhibition basketball game.
Rodman also Tweeted, “I come in peace. I love the people of North Korea!” I really didn’t think much of it at the time, assuming that he tweeted that before he got to North Korea, when he was departing from the United States or when he was in China.
You know what they say about assuming. I was wrong about my beliefs, and found out that he actually tweeted that from Pyongyang thanks to this news article on CNN.
As far as I was aware, there was no Twitter, Facebook, or even 3G in North Korea. However, last month the North Korean government set up a 3G network that is only accessible by foreigners who visit North Korea.
The article is mainly about Jean H. Lee, who is a journalist for the Associated Press (AP). She is also said to be one of the first people to tweet from North Korea, and possibly the first person to have done so. She is the one who nudged Dennis Rodman to use the new 3G network, which he used to post“I come in peace…” bit to his Twitter account
Lee is based in Seoul, South Korea, but she frequently goes to North Korea and is one of the few American journalists who have such a privilege. Lee has been to North Korea more than 20 times since her first visit in 2008.
Only foreigners visiting North Korea can access the 3G network and can connect to their Twitter and Instagram accounts. I may not be a member of Instagram, but David Guttenfelder, an AP photographer, has 71,000 followers on Instagram. “His photos offer a fascinating peek at North Korean life and culture: Teens skating on a roller track, a woman braving a snowstorm, photos of his in-flight meal on Air Koryo, North Korea’s airline.
For the average citizen, the North Korean government still highly limits and restricts the use of the Internet. According to the CNN article, the government strictly monitors the activities of people online. All aspects of their online activities are also easily tracked, because their online activity is directly related to their actual identity.
According to Lee, there has not been any evidence of people speaking out against the government online. The idea of free speech is still highly disregarded, and speaking out against the government could result in severe punishments.
Even though North Korea has been threatening South Korea and its allies, it is still showing signs of opening up to the world. As Lee said, “we are starting to see more openness (and North Korea is) taking baby steps. They’re a long way from being a free and open society.”
This free and open society she speaks of will probably not happen in our lifetimes. I truly find this depressing. I think a free Korean peninsula would be a great resource to the world.
Image Credit: Kheng Guan Toh / Shutterstock