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:
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.”
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.
This report is part of a comprehensive long-term project undertaken by HRNK to use satellite imagery and former prisoner interviews to shed light on human suffering in North Korea by monitoring activity at political prison facilities throughout the nation. This is the second HRNK satellite imagery report detailing activity observed during 2015 to 2021 at a prison facility commonly identified by former prisoners and researchers as “Kwan-li-so No. 14 Kaech’ŏn” (39.646810, 126.117058) and
This report is part of a comprehensive long-term project undertaken by HRNK to use satellite imagery and former prisoner interviews to shed light on human suffering in North Korea by monitoring activity at civil and political prison facilities throughout the nation. This study details activity observed during 1968–1977 and 2002–2021 at a prison facility commonly identified by former prisoners and researchers as "Kyo-hwa-so No. 3, T'osŏng-ni" and endeavors to e
This report is part of a comprehensive long-term project undertaken by HRNK to use satellite imagery and former detainee interviews to shed light on human suffering in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK, more commonly known as North Korea) by monitoring activity at political prison facilities throughout the nation. This report provides an abbreviated update to our previous reports on a long-term political prison commonly identified by former prisoners and researchers as Kwan-li-so
Through satellite imagery analysis and witness testimony, HRNK has identified a previously unknown potential kyo-hwa-so long-term prison-labor facility at Sŏnhwa-dong (선화동) P’ihyŏn-gun, P’yŏngan-bukto, North Korea. While this facility appears to be operational and well maintained, further imagery analysis and witness testimony collection will be necessary in order to irrefutably confirm that Sŏnhwa-dong is a kyo-hwa-so.
"North Korea’s Long-term Prison-Labor Facility Kyo-hwa-so No. 8, Sŭngho-ri (승호리) - Update" is the latest report under a long-term project employing satellite imagery analysis and former political prisoner testimony to shed light on human suffering in North Korea's prison camps.
Human Rights in the Democratic Republic of Korea: The Role of the United Nations" is HRNK's 50th report in our 20-year history. This is even more meaningful as David Hawk's "Hidden Gulag" (2003) was the first report published by HRNK. In his latest report, Hawk details efforts by many UN member states and by the UN’s committees, projects and procedures to promote and protect human rights in the DPRK. The report highlights North Korea’s shifts in its approach
Embargoed until 12:01 a.m. February 25, 2021. South Africa’s Apartheid and North Korea’s Songbun: Parallels in Crimes against Humanity by Robert Collins underlines similarities between two systematically, deliberately, and thoroughly discriminatory repressive systems. This project began with expert testimony Collins submitted as part of a joint investigation and documentation project scrutinizing human rights violations committed at North Korea’s short-