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KEI Spotlight

Telecommunications Revolution in North Korea without a Political Revolution

February 1, 2019

Following KEI's latest Korea Club presentation by our non-resident fellow Kim Yonho, NoCut News ran an article focusing on a salient point that he underscored that evening: despite the telecommunications revolution and associated flowering of a market economy, a political revolution in North Korea (a la Arab Spring) is less certain. 

As the article notes, Kim estimates (based on reports provided by Orascom and the ROK National Intelligence Service) there are about 5 million mobile phone subscribers in North Korea. Nonetheless, the traffic on North Korea's 3G network is restricted and under constant surveillance. Therefore, the likelihood of a popular uprising (through grassroots organizing on social media platforms, etc.) remains distant. 

Nonetheless, the commercial revolution that has taken place as a result of mobile phones deserves people's attention. The emergence of a market economy and a de facto credit system are permanently changing social dynamics in North Korea.

Please find the article (in Korean) here