North Korea: Government Struggles to Keep Tech Genie in the Bottle

The World

A paramilitary official patrols past a picture of the new North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un outside the North Korean Embassy in Beijing, December 12, 2012. North Korea successfully launched a rocket on Wednesday, boosting the credentials of its new leader and stepping up the threat the isolated and impoverished state poses to its opponents.REUTERS/Jason Lee (CHINA - Tags: POLITICS)


North Korea limits its citizens access to mobile phones and a government-sponsored intranet, but it can't shield its population entirely from the widening reach of global technology, says Scott Thomas Bruce with the Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainability. "For the first time, with a million cell phones in the country there are more conversations going on there than the state security system can track," Bruce says. In an effort to control the creep of technology transfer, North Korea's youthful new leader Kim Jong-un announced an edict in April calling for use of the internet as "a means of collecting data of advanced science and technology from abroad" to aid in development. Bruce says, "The goal here is to create what's been called a mosquito net. They want to be sure they can bring in information that is safe for their people to look at. But ultimately they want to make sure that their people aren't able to look at any harmful bits of information."