Living in a global world like our own, we’re regularly crashing into cultural walls, otherness, and the ways in which the differing societies where we’re born will affect the ways we lead our lives.

Such was the case in North Korea, though until recently it was only spoken of in secret. A military regime, it was in a state of constant provocation against Western countries, and always ready to go to war with its neighbors in South Korea. A recurring response from North Korea, when asked about its views on human rights, has been that North Korea is prosperous and courageous. Its responses are the result of cultural education instituted by laws governing the lives of its 24 million people, even in the most secret and private aspects of their lives.

The organization, Human Rights Foundation (HRF), is trying to counter North Korea’s closed education policy, literally bombarding the country with USB flash drives loaded with material deemed “subversive” by the regime. These include music, movies and TV series.

North Koreans can’t use the Internet or have access to education, electronically, without prior government approval. Fortunately, a thriving black market has made it possible for thousands of USBs to arrive in the country, and gradually, the North Koreans will realize that the world is not as bleak as is painted by the local government.

North Korea is no stranger to technology. But like those of China and other totalitarian governments, ideas are taken from the West and adapted to fit an existing cultural policy. Such was the case of the announcement of “Korean Netflix” (in which Netflix does not participate). To counter the situation, Human Rights Foundation receives donations of thumb-drives, which are erased, rewritten, and then passed across the border into North Korea, where demand is increasing. At times, they use balloons or drones which are received by contacts of the organization working within the country.

For Ellen Eoff, a development specialist at HRF, the task of the organization is not to show the North Korean regime as a movie villain, but to show to North Korea that the rest of the world is not as Kim Jong Un says it is. For Eoff, “It’s much more subversive to show South Koreans who have running water,” or to show them living in large and growing cities.

HRF expects to distribute some 10,000 of these pen-drives by the end of 2016. They’re loaded with South Korean soap operas, Wikipedia articles and films from India and the United States.

Gradually, the Goliath of ignorance may open at the stones of a digital “David” in pursuit of a truly open and connected world.

Image: Harco Rutgers / Creative Commons

Living in a global world like our own, we’re regularly crashing into cultural walls, otherness, and the ways in which the differing societies where we’re born will affect the ways we lead our lives.

Such was the case in North Korea, though until recently it was only spoken of in secret. A military regime, it was in a state of constant provocation against Western countries, and always ready to go to war with its neighbors in South Korea. A recurring response from North Korea, when asked about its views on human rights, has been that North Korea is prosperous and courageous. Its responses are the result of cultural education instituted by laws governing the lives of its 24 million people, even in the most secret and private aspects of their lives.

The organization, Human Rights Foundation (HRF), is trying to counter North Korea’s closed education policy, literally bombarding the country with USB flash drives loaded with material deemed “subversive” by the regime. These include music, movies and TV series.

North Koreans can’t use the Internet or have access to education, electronically, without prior government approval. Fortunately, a thriving black market has made it possible for thousands of USBs to arrive in the country, and gradually, the North Koreans will realize that the world is not as bleak as is painted by the local government.

North Korea is no stranger to technology. But like those of China and other totalitarian governments, ideas are taken from the West and adapted to fit an existing cultural policy. Such was the case of the announcement of “Korean Netflix” (in which Netflix does not participate). To counter the situation, Human Rights Foundation receives donations of thumb-drives, which are erased, rewritten, and then passed across the border into North Korea, where demand is increasing. At times, they use balloons or drones which are received by contacts of the organization working within the country.

For Ellen Eoff, a development specialist at HRF, the task of the organization is not to show the North Korean regime as a movie villain, but to show to North Korea that the rest of the world is not as Kim Jong Un says it is. For Eoff, “It’s much more subversive to show South Koreans who have running water,” or to show them living in large and growing cities.

HRF expects to distribute some 10,000 of these pen-drives by the end of 2016. They’re loaded with South Korean soap operas, Wikipedia articles and films from India and the United States.

Gradually, the Goliath of ignorance may open at the stones of a digital “David” in pursuit of a truly open and connected world.

Image: Harco Rutgers / Creative Commons