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HRNK REPORT LAUNCH - DIGITAL TRENCHES: NORTH KOREA’S INFORMATION COUNTER-OFFENSIVE, BY MARTYN WILLIAMS
December 18, 2019


MEDIA RELEASE

HRNK REPORT LAUNCH - DIGITAL TRENCHES:  NORTH KOREA’S INFORMATION COUNTER-OFFENSIVE, BY MARTYN WILLIAMS

NEW HRNK REPORT HIGHLIGHTS THE TECHNOLOGY, CONTENT, LAWS, AND EXTRA-JUDICIAL PUNISHMENT THE KIM REGIME AND THE KOREAN WORKERS’ PARTY EMPLOY TO ISOLATE THE NORTH KOREAN PEOPLE FROM OUTSIDE INFORMATION

THE REPORT IS AVAILABLE AS A PDF FILE THROUGH HRNK’S WEBSITE:

https://www.hrnk.org/publications/hrnk-publications.php

 

THE REPORT IS EMBARGOED UNTIL 12:01 AM WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 18, 2019.


WASHINGTON, DECEMBER 18, 2019. The Committee for Human Rights in North Korea (HRNK) releases today a comprehensive study of the North Korean information crackdown, Digital Trenches: North Korea’s Information Counter-Offensive by Martyn Williams.

In Digital Trenches: North Korea’s Information Counter-Offensive, author Martyn Williams explains how the Kim Jong-un regime has been reacting to increased information infiltration from the outside world. Williams’ rigorously researched report focuses on three fundamental aspects of North Korea’s information counter-offensive: 1) the way technology is used to counter information from the outside world; 2) the way content produced by the regime's propaganda organizations aims to counter information from the outside world; and 3) the way North Korea’s laws and legal system as well as extra-judicial punishment are applied to punish those caught while distributing smuggled content from the outside world or while accessing such information. The report goes further to examine both the technical aspects of North Korea’s dissemination of propaganda to foreign audiences and the content of such propaganda.

Ambassador Robert King, former U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues and HRNK Board Member points out that “Kim Jong-un’s effort to control any access to outside information is critical to his ability to dominate his countrymen.” Ambassador King further states: “External information is key to moving North Korea in a democratic direction, and progress on denuclearization is unlikely unless North Koreans have more democratic influence over their own government. Martyn Williams’ excellent report highlights the nature of this struggle to get free and open information to the North Korean people.”

Foley Hoag LLP Partner and Co-Chair and HRNK Board Member Thomas Barker notes: “The rapid advances in technology have made it increasingly difficult for the regime of Kim Jong-un to block his citizens’ access to information about the outside world. Today, an e-version of the Bible, a South Korean soap opera or a K-pop video can be smuggled into North Korea on a flash drive the size of a fingernail. Martyn Williams’ report describes the increasingly desperate attempts by the Kim regime to restrict the free flow of information to the North Korean people. It also reinforces the need for the outside world to continue its efforts to show the North Korean people what is truly happening in that world as a means of liberating them from the Kim regime.”

David Maxwell, Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies and HRNK Board Member, considers how Williams’ report “provides an excellent survey of the challenges that exist but more importantly an understanding of the capabilities and weakness within the system that must be countered, overcome, and exploited.” According to Maxwell, “it is information and influence in the north that has the greatest potential to bring change to north Korea and to change the lives of the Korean people living in the north.” Maxwell insists: “It is time for South Korea, the United States, and the international community to aggressively and effectively use the information instrument of power as a core function of strategy.”

HRNK Executive Director Greg Scarlatoiu emphasizes: “Understanding how the Kim regime endeavors to preserve its information firewall to prevent outside content from entering the country; how North Koreans obtain such information despite overwhelming control, coercion, surveillance, and punishment; and how the Kim regime distorts the truth to sanitize its image before the world will provide a critical foundation for more effective information campaigns in the future.” Scarlatoiu further affirms: “Any practical agenda to improve human rights in North Korea through information campaigns must be grounded in a thorough understanding of North Korea’s information environment and its relationship with the regime’s deliberate policy of human rights denial. Martyn Williams’ landmark report Digital Trenches is critical to acquiring such understanding.”

For media inquiries contact Greg Scarlatoiu at [email protected] or 202-499-7973 or author Martyn Williams directly at [email protected].

RELEASE DETAILS

The report’s release will be held at the National Press Club Holeman Lounge, located at 529 14th St. NW, Washington, DC 20045 on Wednesday, December 18, 2019 from 9:30 to 11:00 am. The event will feature introductory remarks by The Honorable Robert King, former U.S. Special Envoy for North Korean Human Rights Issues and HRNK Board Member and a presentation by author Martyn Williams. Following this, there will be a discussion with Michael C. Anderson, Major, USMC (ret.), Thomas Barker, Partner, Co-Chair, Healthcare Practice, Foley Hoag LLP and HRNK Board Member, and David Maxwell, Senior Fellow at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies and HRNK Board Member. Greg Scarlatoiu, HRNK Executive Director, will moderate.

One complimentary copy of the report will be offered to each participant.
 

HRNK was founded in 2001 as a nonprofit research organization dedicated to documenting human rights conditions in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), as North Korea is formally known. Visit www.hrnk.org to find out more.

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