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Public Diplomacy Council: North Koreans Quietly Open to International Broadcasts


or well more than a decade, Korea experts who specialize in international media have been examining the impact of foreign broadcasts and DVDs on users in North Korea. They have done so through a combination of in-country surveys and debriefings of defectors from North Korea, refugees and travelers abroad. In annual reports, Freedom House and Reporters Without Borders invariably have ranked that country as having the “least free” media in the world. Yet the curtain of near total silence appears to be opening as never before in North Korea.

In a landmark study released May 11, “A Quiet Opening,” Nat Kretchun, Associate Director of InterMedia Survey in Washington DC, and Jane Kim, Korea Projects Coordinator of the East West Coalition’s office in Beijing, conclude that a substantial portion of the North Korean population now has access to external media, through foreign TV, radio and DVDs. Foreign DVDs and smuggled mobile phones brought into the country from China or South Korea are contributing to the awakening. Awareness of the outside world has grown exponentially among North Koreans since the late 1990s.

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