Thursday, September 16, 2010

What goes into getting the news out of North Korea

Almost every night, seeking to gather opinion from North Korea where opinion is often punishable, Kim Un Ho calls North Korea.

The conversations never last long, as Kim believes his calls can be tapped within two or three minutes. Kim says he knows this because, as a North Korean police officer before he defected in December 2008, he sometimes monitored the conversations.

Kim Un Ho now works as a reporter for Seoul-based Free North Korea Radio. The nightly routine testifies to the difficulty of gathering information from within the world’s most reclusive state. Kim first calls a friend who lives close to the Chinese border, where a smuggled foreign cellphone receives a clear signal.

When Kim reaches his friend, the friend uses a second phone — a North Korean line — to call one of Kim’s police sources in Pyongyang. The friend then places the North Korean phone and the Chinese phone side-by-side, volume raised on the receivers, allowing Kim an indirect, muffled connection.
For extra caution, the conversations rely on code words.

[The Boston Globe]

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