Change has been happening in North Korea, North Korean defectors say, speaking from their personal experiences and what they have since learned from their North Korean relatives.
Marketplaces have sprung up and have survived in cities and villages despite official disapproval after the collapse of the Public Distribution System in the mid-1990s. Academics and defectors alike say North Koreans are now able to exchange information about the realities of the outside world in those markets. “People sit around and whisper,” Cha Ri-hyuk, who defected from North Korea in 2013, explains in an interview.
While the state maintains tight control over official media, North Koreans get information through alternative means, including calling relatives in South Korea using smuggled South Korean phones, said Lim, another defector.
Some of the defectors at the forum work with Free North Korea Radio, one of three private radio stations in South Korea aiming to inform North Koreans across the border. Others said they had distributed fliers in North Korea using balloons, or smuggled computer flash drives into the country containing information about the outside world.
“What liars fear the most is the truth,” said Park Sang-Hak, an outspoken defector who is called “fireball” in the defector community. “And Kim Jong-un is the biggest liar of all.”
[U.S. News & World Report]