It comes as no shock to anyone that North Korea is one of the most censored countries in the world. Just this week, the North Korean government has reportedly blocked access to Facebook and Twitter for all foreigners. The report came from the Russian ITAR-TASS news agency, which is one of the few foreign news services to maintain a presence in the Communist country.
Most North Koreans don’t own a computer, and those that do are restricted to using intranet. Available at libraries, universities, and other state-run establishments, the intranet has websites that include government propaganda, information about science, technology and culture, and oddly enough cooking recipes as well.
In September, North Korea’s State Radio Regulatory Department informed the foreign embassies and aid organizations that they could not use Wi-Fi or satellite Internet connections without the approval of the government. It was hinted that embassies were purposely running open Wi-Fi networks to provide the public Internet. Organizations wishing to still use Wi-Fi were instructed to consult with the government so their services could be checked. Those that didn’t were threatened with an $11,000 fine.
It remains to be seen whether foreigners will face a permanent ban on the use of social networks by the isolated country.
Kim Jong-un Regime
The Kim Jong-un regime is even more ruthless than that of the predecessors. He has become even more intolerant of alternative opinions than his famously stern father. According to intelligence reports from South Korea, there were 17 public executions in 2012, the first full year that Kim was in power. The most well-publicized execution to date, happened in December last year, was that of Jang Song Thaek, Kim’s uncle and mentor. Jang Song Thaek was an official so high in the national hierarchy that he was believed to be untouchable. That was until Kim Jong-un came to power.
Another change was Projects for the People. Previous leaders simply did not care very much about the wellbeing or happiness of the people; money was spent on armed forces, the elite, as well as nuclear programs. Apparently influenced by the years he spent at a private school in Switzerland, Kim has decided to spend some of his cash on projects to keep the people happy. Or at least the privileged few who are loyal to the regime and allowed to live in Pyongyang. A brightly-coloured water park has opened in the capital, residential districts have been spruced up and new hospitals, schools and gyms constructed.