It’s easy to forget in the midst of the attention-grabbing summit between the leaders of North and South Korea, that North Korea’s citizens remain painfully unaware of current events. Every piece of media that they have access to is controlled by the state, so most North Koreans do not have access to the internet, international calls, or uncensored news. In fact, Breitbart reminded people that North Koreans don’t know that Kim Jong Un has promised denuclearization, nor do they know that their leader has invited President Trump for a meeting.
Instead, the state-run news outlet, Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), made some grand claims about their leader before the summit took place.
“[North Korea] has definitely risen to the position of a world-level politico-ideological and military power…What is needed for the U.S. is to learn how to observe good manners and how to respect the party concerned, not resorting to high-handed practices and arrogance.”
Furthermore, the news outlet stated that Kim Jong Un had “push[ed] forward the economic construction and the building of nuclear force…lashing the whole country into great emotion and joy.”
So now, North Koreans, instead of knowing that their leader is promising denuclearization, could believe that their country is being accepted by world governments as a nuclear state.
This gives people a small glimpse into the highly controlled and censored bubble that North Koreans live in. The government provides citizens with their version of the internet, smartphones, and even Mac operating systems. There are two versions of the internet available, one for elite and high-ranking government officials, and another that’s accessible by regular citizens. The internet for regular citizens is highly regulated and censored. North Koreans also use rip-off iPads, Androids, and even a fake Facebook, according to The Sun.
— Al Jazeera News (@AJENews) April 27, 2018
If a North Korean citizen wants to get their hands on news from the outside world, they only have a few options, which include word of mouth, illegal foreign radio, or flash drives with illegal news. There’s no way for a regular citizen to call someone internationally either, as the function is restricted on North Korean cell phones. It’s also very dangerous to access illegal news or to contact the outside world because the penalties are so stiff.
For example, making or receiving an international phone call is enough for someone to be accused of “attempts to overthrow the state,” which carries with it a heavy penalty of “re-education” in a prison camp or even the death penalty. Listening to foreign radio carries a 10 year “re-education” prison sentence.