A blog by Grant Montgomery, co-founder of Family Care Foundation, a 501c3 that provides emergency services and sustained development for families on 5 continents. This site highlights the plight of 300,000 North Koreans who have fled their country due to the brutal oppression of a Stalinist North Korean regime, as well as those still living in North Korea.
In his New Year’s greeting earlier this month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un extolled the benefits of technology, saying: “The industrial revolution in the new century is, in essence, a scientific and technological revolution, and breaking through the cutting edge is a shortcut to the building of an economic giant.”
Even Kim must realize that it’s pretty hard to be “cutting edge” if you have no access to the Internet. And yet, that is the case for nearly all of the 24 million people in his country. While it is hard to get accurate figures on most everything related to North Korea, Martyn Williams, who runs Northkoreatech.org, estimates that the number of North Koreas with Internet access is probably in the “low thousands.” Such access tends to be limited to people in elite or scientific circles.
North Korean leaders have long viewed technological prowess as a source of government legitimacy. The recent satellite launch, for example, can be pointed to as a symbol of regime “accomplishment.”
North Korea is facing an extreme version of the dictator’s dilemma. On the one hand, its leaders are attracted to the knowledge, economic growth, and global connectivity that are facilitated by the Internet. At the same time, they know that the Internet would threaten their grip on power.
Most regimes facing this quandaryhave chosen to embrace technology, even with the corresponding loss of control. North Korea is likely to do the same. The difference is that it might not survive the consequences.
Iran and North Korea signed a scientific and technological cooperation agreement Saturday, bringing two nations deeply at odds with the U.S. closer together.
Iranian state TV did not provide further details on the document but said it will include setting up joint scientific and technological laboratories, exchange of scientific teams between the two countries and transfer of technology in the fields of information technology, energy, environment, agriculture and food.
Any technical accord between Pyongyang and Tehran is likely to raise suspicions in the West. The U.S. has repeatedly accused North Korea of providing Iran with advanced missiles capable of targeting Western European capitals.
Last year, Iran denied a U.N. panel report saying that North Korea and Iran appear to have been regularly exchanging ballistic missiles, components and technology in violation of U.N. sanctions.
Iran’s state TV said the agreement was signed in Tehran in the presence of Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and, by Iran’s Minister of Science, Research and Technology Kamran Daneshjoo and North Korea’s Foreign Minister Pak Ui-chun.
Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei told North Korea’s No. 2, Kim Yong Nam, that North Korea and Iran have “common enemies.”
“Arrogant powers don’t tolerate independent governments,” Khamenei told Kim. “In the march towards great goals, one should be serious, and pressures, sanctions and threats should not cause any crack in (our) determination.”