Friday, February 19, 2010

Defectors a key news source on North Korea

Figuring out what's going on in North Korea is no easy task, but human rights groups in the South reckon they have stumbled on a winning combination.

Defectors from communist North Korea who fled to the capitalist South, rely on those fleeing to provide news from across the demilitarized zone. The key weapon in their news arsenal is the cellphone. Defectors routinely stay in touch with relatives in the North, thereby providing a constant stream of information.

Because of the closed nature of North Korean society, its residents are hesitant to have contact with outsiders. That's why defectors are so crucial to the news operations.

Defectors living in South Korea are said to remit an average $430 a year to relatives via brokers. Mobile phones are necessary to confirm that the money was received.

More than half the North Korean defectors now in South Korea are thought to be in regular phone contact with relatives they left behind. North Koreans can connect their mobile phones to Chinese relay stations as long as they are within a few kilometers of the border.


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