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Signs of change in North Korea

(CPJ/IFEX) - 17 May 2012 - The following is a CPJ Blog post:

By Bob Dietz/CPJ Asia Program Coordinator

CPJ may have raised some eyebrows with this year's list of the world's 10 most censored countries. North Korea was relegated to the number two slot, behind Eritrea. In our last ranking, in 2006, we ranked North Korea as the worst, and many other organizations continue to do that.

But in justifying our decision for 2012, we noted that cracks in the North's information wall are beginning to appear:

Ruling elites have access to the World Wide Web, but the public is limited to a heavily monitored and censored network with no connections to the outside world. While The Associated Press opened a Pyongyang bureau in January 2012 staffed with North Koreans, the AP wasn't granted its own Internet connection and the correspondents have no secure line of communication. A Japan-based media support group, Asiapress, has been giving North Korean volunteers journalism training and video cameras to record daily life in the North. Downloaded onto DVDs or memory sticks, the images are smuggled across the porous border with China and then sent to Japan for broader distribution.

A lengthy study released on May 11, "A Quiet Opening," by Nat Kretchun, associate director of InterMedia in Washington, and Jane Kim, Korea projects coordinator of the East West Coalition in Beijing, takes a deep look at conditions in the countryside, not just in and around Pyongyang's leadership compounds.

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