Introduction usually more economically sound and thriving. However,

Introduction

Information
Technology (IT) and Information Communications
Technology (ICT) can have a significant impact on the economic growth of a
society. The use of Information Technology such as computers, laptops, etc. in
a society can promote rapid growth because it allows the free travel of
information with the internet and can allow more opportunities for connections
to businesses. Information Communications Technology such as phones and other
telecommunications systems allows for growth because it helps connect a society
to the outside world by allowing everyone to share their own views, which leads
to trade, and trade leads to growth.

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Information
technology and the internet has become ingrained in almost every society and
the societies without it can still have growth but there is a significant
divide between the two being in that IT societies are usually more economically
sound and thriving. However, Information Technology is becoming more advanced,
allowing for cheaper IT systems, this means underdeveloped societies will soon
have a chance to grow through the use of Information Technology. Information Technology
also usually leads to a more democratic government which may not be the goal of
some leaders in countries.

 

 

 

 

 

Background and Observation

I
was born and raised in Texas in the United States of America so the idea of
some countries never having access to the internet or essential Information
Technology that allows a society to become more modern and industrialized and
how it can impact the society never affected or occurred to me. However, in my
recent years I have become very interested in technology, and I have seen how
important Information technology is and how it will truly shape the future of
our world. Also for the first time 2 years ago I had left the country and I had
the privilege of visiting San Pedro Island in Belize. San Pedro is a small
isolated island that is fairly underdeveloped and doesn’t have much in the way
of Information Technology, the only places with computers are the major
businesses such as hotels, but they are fairly old and are limited in what they
can do with the internet. The businesses there are unique and small focusing on
handcrafted products that doesn’t require importation, there is no Walmart in
San Pedro, there isn’t even a McDonalds, as a matter of fact there are no
American fast food chains. My thoughts were that this would most likely be due
to the lack of Information Communication Technology and other IT systems. This
made me want to research other countries with a lack of information technology
and find out how the country and its citizens are affected. This allowed me to
come across North Korea, a very intriguing country, because the North Korean
government chooses to limit Information Technology to control the society, but
upon further research I found there also lots of economic problems and the
citizens are affected by the lack of information technology. North Korea has a
notable digital divide because the lack of ICT seems as though it affects
economic growth. This brought me to my research question… How does the
censorship of the World Wide Web and Other IT systems impact the citizens of
North Korea and its Economy?

 

Economic Impact

North
Koreas society has been suffering for many years due to the North Koreans
Governments lack of prioritization in outside trade and the care for its citizens.
North Koreans are underfed because most of the countries money goes into
militarization rather than Information Communication Technologies and general
supplies so this means that import costs would be high and this leads to many
North Koreans starving. In a recent study by the “Beyond Parallel project at
the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C.” is
shows that most North Koreans earn 75 percent of their money from the black
market. People illegally export fish, shoes cigarettes and cooking oil, this
helps give the citizens opportunities that they otherwise couldn’t afford.1 This increase of money
could help families buy food and keep them from starving, but it its illegal so
it will not diminish starvation because not everyone will do it. In Fact, North
Korea doesn’t import many things because they don’t want to run the risk of a
security breach, possibly giving citizens a new outlook on North Korea focused
on there freedom, this lack of import leads to increased starvation, also
increased prices for things made within the country.2 North Korean black markets
are almost becoming a normal thing because of this factor and also because
prices are not determined by supply and demand but rather determined on how the
North Korean Government sees fit.

 

 

Social Impact

Information
Technology shapes the way for how humans communicate with each other and the
rest of the world, because can freely express their views with one another with
no regulation. However, this is not the case in North Korea because they have
the most robust censorship laws out of anywhere in the world. This is the
tactic of Kim Jong Un and his predecessor because if there was a free flow of
information through the use of cell phones and computers using the internet
then citizens would realize how terrible of a country North Korea is and
uprisings would most likely start happening. North Koreans are taught from an
early age that the internet is bad and no one should try to use it, the
government tells them this because they don’t want citizens to see the rest of
the world and find out how different North Korea is… and not in a good way. North
Korean landlines and cell phones cannot make international calls whatsoever and
sometimes calls can be monitored. WIFI isn’t an option in North Korea also
because there have been reports of accidentally giving uncensored internet
access.3 There are many laws set in
place to prevent the use of the internet and foreign radio or any form of
foreign media. If these laws are broken then the consequences can be dire. For example,
North Koreans are only allowed to watch North Korean Propaganda and it has been
reported that over 130 North Koreans have been executed because they watched
South Korean Television. This is frowned upon because South Korean television
can’t present a better way of life that they don’t want citizens wishing for. For
the people of North Korea, it’s illegal for them to leave their country without
permission, this is so no information gets out of the country exposing North
Korea for what it is. There still has been some people who have escaped though
and that’s where we get most of our intel on North Korea. The regime even
attempts to restrict movement within North Korea to avoid people finding
confidential places. Its almost as hard to get in as it is out, for the people
that do get in, like journalists or famous people, they are under heavy
supervision and if they do anything to “disturb the peace” then they can have
severe repercussions. North Korea has also sent thousands of citizens to worse
parts of the country for punishment and reeducation. 4Like as stated before there
is absolutely no freedom of speech, and with that comes no freedom of learning
the outside in any way. Also in North Korea, they do not allow anybody to have
religious freedom because organized religion can be seen as a threat, and
people discovered practicing religion can be publicly executed or sent to
prison camps. Also, because of North Korean censorship and exclusivity, it is
hard to get enough food without imports and dedicated most money to military,
so there ends up being chronic food shortages to the average citizen, there are
millions of malnourished children and babies which leads to stunted growth and
high risks of health problems. There is virtually no health care in North Korea
so for those who get sick and can’t afford medicine can suffer badly from
simple and easily curable sicknesses. The prison camps (there are 5) hold
anywhere from 80,000 to 120,000 people. They have existed longer than the Nazi
concentration camps. For some of the people in these camps, they have not even
committed a crime but are related to someone who has, they are guilty because
their blood is guilty. There are public executions for small petty crimes, and
other varieties, and everyone watches because the regime wants to inflict fear
into the hearts of everyone so they learn that they should not do as the
criminal did. As for the refugees, if a woman happens to escape then most of
the time they become victims of sex trafficking because china lacks an amount
of marriable women. Even though there are severe reproductions people try to
escape every year. The children birthed by the women North Korean refugees can
wind up stateless because they are neither recognized by china nor North Korea,
so they get no basic rights such as education and other state provided
services.

Ethical
Impact

To
most the ethics behind most of The North Korean Governments decisions are
pretty cut and dry, everything that North Korea does is generally bad and
prevents basic human rights, they redacted North Koreans freedom of speech,
also there is starvation within the country due to its poor purchasing
decisions. North Korea uses IT to create their own intranet called Redstar OS,
an intranet is a more localized version of the internet. The few North Koreans
that do get to use the intranet are usually limited to a public computer with
surveillance over it and the intranet provided only gives citizens search
results that the North Korean government wants them to see, meaning there can
be no spread of new ideas and no true knowledge is actually gained. Also, North
Korean propaganda is constantly being shown while one uses the intranet. This
filtered intranet ensures that only certain media is seen and nobody can get
any unwanted thoughts about North Korea. In researching this more, I found out
if North Korean citizens can get life in prison or even worse executed for
trying to alter or look up things on the intranet or OS that they shouldn’t
look up. It would be like putting a person in one room since birth and never
telling them there is more to life than that room, so in their head they think
they have total freedom because they don’t know that they are trapped in one
room in a big world. However, Intranet access is highly restricted and North
Koreans only get to access it, if they are given a specific task, and most of
the time they are being watched. “The average citizen who wants uncensored news
either illegally tunes into foreign radio or relies rumors being passed around.”
International calls are also outlawed in North Korea and the can get 5 years of
re-education in a prison camp where the highest penalty is death, if they get
caught making these calls. The free expression in North Korea is absolutely
terrible, the country got a score of 96 on Freedom House’s annual report on
Press Freedom, and 100 is the worst score. 5The BBC reports that the
radios and television sets in North Korea are pre-tuned to government stations,
while radios have to be checked and registered by the police.6 Internet is usually only
permitted to be used by university students and regime elites. Not to mention
that the foreign media is becoming less and less permitted and have more
restriction so the outside world can’t see North Korea for what it is but also
North Korean citizens can’t understand the freedom of the outside world. The
problem with censoring the intranet in North Korea is that while it may blind
the citizens of North Korea, it also blinds the rulers to because they aren’t
furthering their technological advances so they can’t trade and deal with
digital problems as well. With free press North Korea would be forced to deal
with the overwhelming amount of famine and other problems, but until then there
will be false reports playing down the actual weight of the problems at hand.
An interesting bit of code is written to every page on the North Korean
Intranet, that is when anytime Kim Jong Un is mentioned, his name appears
slightly larger than the surrounding text. In a computer, the calendar doesn’t
read 2017 rather it reads 106 which is the number of years since the birth of
Kim ill sung, the countries previous leader. The system that the computers are
running on is called Kwangmyong, and is run by the one and only service
provider. The sites that are typically seen are news services like “the Voice
of Korea” and the “Rodong Sinmun.” The reporters for the news sites need
extremely careful though because if they make any mistakes it could have dire consequences.
Reporters without Borders, states, some North Korean journalists have been sent
to “revolutionization camps just for putting a typo in one of their articles.
The system that’s in place filtering out all the sites that are unwanted by the
government is called mosquito net. This makes only the bare essentials
available so nothing unwanted by the North Korean government can happen. 7

 

Unethical Punishments

In
response to government censorship and actions, activists such as Kim
Seung-chul, a North Korean who fled to South Korea created North Korea Reform
radio, which sends anti-government messages to the north. The system in place
on mobile phones have recently set surveillance and better filtering in place.  In 2008 There was also censorship in music,usually
North Korea performances are limited to music that has been approved by Kim
Jong-Il. In 1992 during a party Ji Hae Nam, former propaganda officer sang a
south Korean song, and as a result she got sentenced three years in jail, and
was beaten badly. Kim Jong-Il only allows music that praises him or praises the
ideals of communism. Pushing further the fact that he wants the world to view
him as perfect so it can hide the disastrous state of North Korea. Another
example of an extreme punishment is that North Korea sentenced two south Korean
journalists to death for “insulting the dignity of the country”. This was
because they had reported on a book called North Korea Confidential. The
journalist’s names that are sentenced to death are Son Hyo-rim and Yang Ji-ho.
They are going to die just because they wrote critically about the regime,
which is very undeserving in my opinion. According to the Court, the execution
could be carried out at any moment and at any place. In an interview, according
to Joo Sung-Ha there were other reporters that reported on this same book and
she does not know why Son and Yang were singled out. The fact that North Korea
would plan to execute just because of a critical review shows that there is a
whole bad world in the heart of North Korea. North Korea is so sensitive of
media that portrays as bad that, when the movie “The Interview” was about to be
released, North Korea said there would be heavy retaliation if the interview
was released. The movie happens to include the death of Kim Jong-un, which is
what tipped North Korea off. Originally the movie was about meeting Kim Jong-il
but when he died in 2011 and Kim Jong-un took power they changed the script so
that the interview would take place with him. The heartless North Korea
sentenced a U.S. student to 15 years of hard labor for removing a political
banner from a hotel.8 The U.S. urged North Korea
to let him go because the punishment is not justified based on his actions. The
trial lasted one hour where it shows the student crying and begging for
forgiveness telling how his family needs him back home, and that he is only
human and promises to never make the mistake ever again, but he was convicted
anyways. If that wasn’t bad enough 17 months later he was released from North
Korea in a coma and when he got home he later died in the U. S. The family
claims that the student “Otto Warmbier” was brutalized and mistreated by North
Koreans to ensure that one outcome.

There
are still prisoners that are in North Korea today, these include Kim Sang-duk
and he was taken in on April 23, and Jin Xue Song, on May 6; the North Korea
accused each man of “hostile acts.” Not much is known as in why the third
prisoner Kim Dong-chul was detained in 2015. According to other prisoners that
are now released, when you’re an American prisoner in North Korea you have a
small cell, and you are underfed and you are stuck in there with no chance of
seeing the outside world. According to the article Asia Pacific, a man named
Mr. Kim spent 1 month at Pyongyang University of science and technology where
he was teaching accounting, and when he was trying to leave the country before
he could board the plane he was arrested, this is according to the university
Chancellor, Chan-Mo Park. Chan-Mo Park was also reported saying that “The cause
of his arrest is not known, but some officials at Pyongyang University of
Science and Technology told me his arrest was not related to his work at
Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. “He had been involved with some
other activities outside P.U.S.T., such as helping an orphanage. “Kim
Dong-chul, a businessman, was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor in April 2016
because he was accused of spying and other offenses. A month before his trial,
Mr. Kim appeared at a government-arranged news conference in Pyongyang and
apologized for trying to steal military secrets in cooperation with South
Koreans. The South Korean spy agency denied any involvement.” 9

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

False Media and Its Influence

While there
isn’t much in North Korean media, the media that is existent is mostly false
statements about the US and false pictures of nuclear destruction of United
States cities by North Korean Nukes. North Korean news anchors say things like
an upcoming conflict will leave Washington in a “Sea of Fire” There are also
websites by communists that state they are waiting to demolish the United
States to ashes. One North Korean television showed a video of a nuclear attack
on the White House that was not real. The announcer talks about how “the
American imperialists and the South Korean traitors … will face the most absurd
and painful self-destruction, digging their own tombs with their bare hands.” There
is propaganda where the video ends with a bunch of graves overlaid on to an
American flag. A
month later, as a part of the day of the sun which is a holiday celebrated by
North Koreans, once a North Korean TV broadcasted a military concert in front
of a huge screen that happened to show a missile attack on San Francisco. North
Koreans imagery and words have a very numbing sameness about them but the messages
are monitored closely by the US for any changes. . A second U.S. official said
that , if the North Koreans stop talking about turning South Korea into a “sea
of fire” and threaten things that are even more horrific, then the entire
world, the government and the intelligence community need to take note. 10 Citizens
of North Korea are now in the year 103. This different calendar shows the years
since Kim Il Sung was born, and was introduced in 1997 by son Kim Jong-Il, and
his own birth as people say, took place on Mount Paektu under a double rainbow
at the same time a new star appeared in the sky. Kim Jong-Un allegedly scaled
North Korea’s biggest mountain on his own. He climbed Mt. Paekt an active
volcano , to meet with 100 soldiers at the summit for a photoshoot. North
Korea’s state-ran news website KCNA indicated the invention of a generation,
waterproof liquid. The country’s Chosun Central Television chancel pinpointed
China as the happiest place to live on Earth, awarding them 100 out of 100
points, and humbly demoting themselves to second on 98 points. North Korean media
is entirely produced and controlled by the State and by its ruling Workers’
Party of Korea, which controls all power in the country. Without access to the
internet, the most exposure that any person within North Korea can expect is
through the more established means like TV, radio and newspapers however these
are controlled by the government.11 Though the Constitution
of North Korea grants freedom of speech and of the press, this is only true if
the media is positive towards the government. There is only ‘source’ for any
news stories – the Korean Central News Agency, which provides a series of daily
press statements for the news agenda for that day. The government uses the
newspaper to try to show an ideal country that almost based on pure jealousy. The
US is the main target, regularly sending the image the media is showing that an
attack from the “imperialist” US is in the near future– but always reassuring
the public that North Korea’s own military might will offer easy retaliation. TV broadcasts  which only begin every evening after 5pm, when
the public has finished its day’s work, unless there is emergency news such as
Kim Jong Il’s death which  have many
messages portraying North Korea as a paradise that everyone would want to be a
part of.

 

 

 

Conclusion

Information Technology is
used in a lot of places around the world, and there is a correlation between the
success of an economy and its adoption of new Informational Technology. North
Korea has a lack of Informational Technology and the economy is very poor with
a lot of malnourished and starving people, instead of IT systems the government
focusing on military and censorship which means that here is no money for
citizens and they don’t import need resources. North Korea uses the little
Informational Technology it has to manipulate its citizens and censors all
foreign media from coming into the country. Therefore, Informational Technology
is a very powerful tool and it can help shape a country and the lack of it
creates a digital divide from the more modern societies and it is more likely
for that economy to fail.

 

 

 

1
Cuban Activists

2 The
Constant Crisis

3
Everything To know

4 How
it works

5
North Korea

6
Surfing The Internet

7
Oxford Scholarship

8
Shockingly Normal

9
Imprisoned in North Korea

10
Blinds The People

11
North Korean Censorship