February 06, 2023

Beating The Information Blockade In Our Own Style

Regardless of Google calls to open the internet, North Koreans find alternative ways to break the information blockade

With last month’s visit to North Korea by Google Chairman Eric Schmidt, much media attention was focused on speculation of whether North Korea might soon open up to the Internet. After his visit, Mr. Schmidt made a statement that North Korea should enter the information age in line with the rest of the world and warned that if this did not happen, the nation’s economic development might suffer. But regardless of Schmidt's calls, it seems the information age has already dawned in North Korea - through the jangmadang.

After the mass famine and ‘Arduous March’ of the 90s, currency revaluations, and the collapse of the Public Distribution System on which North Koreans depended on for so long, North Koreans had to look for ways to survive on their own. One of the most effective ways to do so was through the jangmadang, which means ‘market-place/market-square’ in Korean.