Smuggling 20,000 USB sticks loaded with the latest Hollywood films might seem like an unlikely way to try to overthrow the North Korean regime – but that’s exactly what Flashdrives for Freedom has in mind.
Launched by the New York-based Human Rights Foundation and Silicon Valley non-profit Forum280, organizers ask Americans to donate their unwanted USB sticks, which will then be loaded with a selection of films and TV shows and smuggled across the DPRK’s sealed borders.
Although it’s not the first project to smuggle in information, campaigners say the need to support and engage citizens has grown in recent months. Tong Kim, who has worked in US-Korea diplomatic relations for more than 25 years, says this is partly because international sanctions often isolate North Koreans even more.
Sharon Stratton, programme officer at the North Korea Strategy Centre which is helping to distribute the drives, says popular culture from elsewhere is a powerful way to reach out to ordinary citizens.