Beijing has the power to dramatically alter the course of history in North Korea. Because of this, the west needs to put pressure on both capitals and create a new vector of power: information.
New platforms and forms of communication are necessary to reverse a campaign of brainwashing that dates back three generations. Pirate videos, thumb-drives and smuggled phones spread the truth, that in the outside world, people lives unimaginably better lives than they do inside North Korea. Critics of the state rely on hot-air balloons to carry anti-regime information across the border, but it’s not enough.
Interviews with defectors reveal that many listen to news from shortwave radios, despite fear of severe punishment, and despite the government’s best efforts to isolate its population.
The BBC, hard-pressed as it is, must seriously consider broadcasting into North Korea. According to BBC internal estimates a Korean service would cost around £1m a year to run and a shortwave transmitter would cost about £300,000 a year. North citizens need to understand more about the true working of their own country.
This regime, that looks so strong, is weaker than you think.
[Excerpts from John Sweeney’s book “North Korea Undercover”, as published in The Guardian]