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RSF surveys increasing clandestine news networks and info-sharing tactics

Illegal shortwave radios and banned information on DVDs and USB drives are tools in North Korean citizens' fight for information
Illegal shortwave radios and banned information on DVDs and USB drives are tools in North Korean citizens' fight for information
An ever-porous information border around North Korea has allowed Reporters Without Borders (RSF) to put together a comprehensive report on the media situation in the world's most repressive dictatorship.

In July 2011, an RSF staff member travelled to Seoul, South Korea, to meet with South Korean reporters who send broadcasts to the North, human rights advocates, Ministry of Unification officials and North Korean refugees and journalists, many who rely upon on-the-ground reports from courageous citizen journalists.

Despite spies that monitor journalists' activities near the border, citizen journalists in North Korea are in telephone contact with those reporting on North Korean news from China, Japan and South Korea, RSF says. They are taking great risks to do so, facing the threat of execution, long imprisonment or "re-education" sentences. Especially key are RSF-supported, stations in Seoul - Free North Korea Radio, Radio Free Chosun and Open Radio for North Korea.

In addition, illegal short wave radios are used by those who can afford them to access news from foreign media. Contraband films, TV shows and material from NGOs are shared via USB drives and DVDs.

"In the past, North Koreans were happy just to re¬ceive information but now they feel a real need for it," says Kim Heung-kwang of North Korean Intellectuals Solidarity (NKIS), whose organisation sends USB drives containing information on human rights and democracy to North Korea.

Meanwhile, the government media continue to spread the same propaganda, proclaiming the superiority of North Korea's government and quality of life. Tactics to block foreign media transmissions have become more sophisticated, the RSF report says.

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