North Korea Campaigners Want USB Sticks to Distribute Banned Materials

By Tom Pritchard on at

Two US-based human rights charities have made public appeals for donations of USB sticks, in an effort to smuggle illegal material into North Korea.

We're not talking about your typical illegal content, though. Currently over 100,000 USB drives are smuggled into North Korea every year, in an attempt to distribute content that's been banned by the authoritarian state. Content like Hollywood films, South Korean TV, and pages from the Korean version of Wikipedia.

It's been well known that North Koreans have little or no access to the internet, meaning they can't easily obtain information about the outside world. In recent times USB sticks, paired with cheap Chinese portable media players, have been instrumental in getting around those restrictions and delivering illegal foreign content into the hands of citizens.

The problem is that delivering the content is dangerous, given North Korea's history of brutal form of criminal justice, and often the charities have to cover the cost of the USB sticks (and, where necessary, bribes for North and South Korean officials) themselves. Obviously having people send in working drives would be a great help.

Since the campaign was launched last week 200 drives have already been donated, and one contributor has pledged to buy a further 10,000.

Reports also indicate that demand for foreign media has increased amongst North Koreans, with the likes of Desperate Housewives, Spartacus, and The Hunger Games proving to be popular titles[BBC News]