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North Korea's Burgeoning Blogosphere, of Sorts

BY Nancy Scola | Tuesday, March 30 2010

Credit: (stephan)

The New York Times Choe Sang-Hun has as fascinating story about how North Koreans and South Koreans are using cell phones to open up a window on to the "Hermit Kingdom." And they're doing it even though doing this sort of proto-blogging puts participants at risk of everything from increased government scrutiny to execution:

The networks are the creation of a handful of North Korean defectors and South Korean human rights activists using cellphones to pierce North Korea’s near-total news blackout. To build the networks, recruiters slip into China to woo the few North Koreans allowed to travel there, provide cellphones to smuggle across the border, then post informers’ phoned and texted reports on Web sites.

Sang-Hun does a good job reporting on the quality and variety of the reporting coming out North Korea:

The result has been a news free-for-all, a jumble of sometimes confirmed but often contradictory reports. Some have been important; the Web sites were the first to report the outrage among North Koreans over a drastic currency revaluation late last year. Other articles have been more prosaic, covering topics like whether North Koreans keep pets and their complaints about the price of rice.

Where there's a will, there's web.