Today our world is more connected than it has ever been. Physical distance is virtually irrelevant when it comes to the spread of information and news. When Ghaddafi was killed in Libya, we were watching cell phone video footage on CNN almost instantaneously. We watched riots in Tahrir Square unfold minute by minute, and the world was there when the first bombs were dropped on Iraq almost a decade ago. But certain countries seem to evade our ever-present coverage, and North Korea is one of the few. For years, the inner-workings have been a mystery to most of the world, excluding a handful of journalists (many of whom would end up arrested for leaving their government escorts) and foreign diplomats.
It was just a few months ago, that the N. Korean government declared it a war crime to use a cell phone during the 100 day mourning period for the late Kim-Jong Il. And most North Koreans won’t get to see the internet ridicule of this week’s failed rocket launch, because most of the population doesn’t have access to it.
But now, ICTs like mobile phones with global service and video capability, as well as social networks, are allowing us to piece together the elusive behind-the-curtain look at the dictatorial regime.
Take a look at this slideshow of some TwitPics of the unveiling of statues of Kim il-Sung and Kim Jong-il
With the proliferation of ICTs and social networks, it seems hard to believe that one government could keep an entire country in the dark (literal and metaphorical) for much longer. If the communications barrier is broken, what do you think the North Koreans will do with their newfound information? Will we see another “Arab Spring” in Asia? This is highly unlikely, but the world has changed so much in the past years that it may not be too farfetched in years ahead…