Connecting North Korea: H.R. 2397 Act and Modern Technologies

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PYONGYANG — Provocative actions from North Korea’s leader fill the news cycle, but the nation’s people are cut off from the rest of the world. The goal of H.R. 2397, also known as the Distribution and Promotion of Rights and Knowledge Act (DPRK Act), is to authorize further actions to promote freedom of information and democracy to the North Korean people, in part through the distribution of technology such as cell phones.

Human rights reports from the United Nations described the situation in Pyongyang as dire. The poverty level is very high, and people are often underfed. Kim Jong Un, the ruler of North Korea, has not had a positive relationship with western-thinking countries and commits various human rights violations against his people.

The Korean Peninsula, controlled by Japan for 35 years, was split after World War II into the communist north and the democratic south along the 38th parallel. Tensions rose so high that war erupted in 1950, ending with an uneasy truce and armistice, but never a formal treaty.

H.R. 2397 amends the North Korean Human Rights Act (NKHRA) of 2004 to better clarify what is given to the population. “Broadcasting” replaces “radio broadcasts” when noting what information is included, enabling a more broad strategy of outlets.

Not only would TV stations and other broadcasts be in the amended version, but technology as well. Cell phones and wi-fi access would be given to the people of North Korea to educate them about the world around them.

How to achieve this goal is also provided. Paragraphs were added to the NHKRA of 2004 in H.R. 2397 to show the means by which global connection is possible. Grants programs provided by the President through the Secretary of State will enable eligible entities to distribute outside information to the people of North Korea.

Efforts to connect corrupt countries to the global forum allows for populations to see the possibility of life outside their borders. Providing the latest technology shows concretely the advantages of joining the world stage. Kim Jong Un has ruled with an oppressive strategy of limiting information from his people. H.R. 2397 adds more outlets to change this for the people of North Korea.

Nick Katsos

Photo: Flickr

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