Kim Seung Chul, a North Korean defector who came to South Korea in 1994, believes that information is key to changing his homeland. Kim founded North Korea Reform Radio in 2007, which currently broadcasts two hours a day of news, information and entertainment over shortwave frequencies. He also occasionally uses remote-controlled balloons to drop leaflets and other information into the country.
“The goal is enlightenment,” he said. “We’re trying to reach North Koreans who are isolated, who don’t have anywhere to listen to real stories or real news, in order to trigger a spark, to give them a vision, something that will bring positive action.”
He estimates that at least 10% of North Korea’s 25 million people have access to foreign media regularly. He and his colleagues also try to target higher-ranking members of the North Korean regime who travel abroad with messages and shows they hope will prove inspirational.
Their tactics can be surprisingly creative. One program Seung Chul has turned to is House of Cards, hoping that its main character will offer some pointers in the dark arts of political maneuvering. “In order for high officials to act wisely against Kim, they will have to act like Frank Underwood,” Seung Chul said. “The revolution shouldn’t be like the ones in Iraq or Libya. It should be led by those intellectual people to make slight changes that lead to a bigger change. The strategic goal is to make North Korea change by itself.”