FPI / September 17, 2019
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un insists on isolating the nation’s population from the world. Merely purchasing a Western-made movie on the black market can get a North Korean citizen sent to a prison camp, or worse.
So, why would the young dictator be interested in Chinese tech giant Huawei's 3G technology?
“Perhaps the answer is that this technology will serve as another means of control. State propaganda can be ramped up and, most alarming, citizen surveillance increased,” Joseph Kim wrote in a Sept. 3 analysis for the George W. Bush Institute.
"This is not a foreign concept for Huawei," Kim noted in reference to the Trump administration's crackdown on Huawei's access to U.S. markets and technology.
Recent reports say that Huawei is engaged in a secret project to help build and maintain wireless networks in the reclusive North.
News of Kim’s sudden interest in 3G comes around the same time that North Korea and China recommitted to strengthened exchanges between their armies — further guaranteeing that China remains North Korea’s strongest ally.
Kim Jong-Un “thrives on isolating the nation’s citizens and manipulating information,” Joseph Kim wrote.
In July, Radio Free Asia reported that seven North Korean teenagers were arrested for watching South Korean movies.
The North Korean regime has tacitly permitted markets to operate. Approximately 19 million people in a nation of 25 million directly and indirectly depend on the markets to make a living.
“However, adding 3G infrastructure and increased surveillance means the regime will have the ability to more closely monitor and control those markets, including who crosses the North Korean/Chinese border to bring across prohibited items such as foreign movies and South Korean TV shows for sale and distribution,” Joseph Kim wrote.
“Additionally, the 3G infrastructure may help check a corrupted police force.”
It estimated that 20 percent of the North’s population currently subscribe to state owned cellphones.
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