In one defiant leap, embassies have left off passwords and strengthened their internet connection so that college students could walk by the embassy and pick up the internet on their mobile phones.
Housing prices for apartments near the embassies have soared as North Koreans clamor to be closer to the Wi-Fi sent off from the strong router installed by a Middle Eastern embassy.
Blocking the flow: Unfortunately this anomaly was not missed by the North Korean authorities and on August 13 new rules were issued from the North Korean State Radio Regulatory Department ordering for equipment to be dismantled.
Wi-Fi can be reinstalled on the condition that they have a consultation with the Radio Regulatory Department. The reasoning behind a consultation is unknown, according to Martyn Williams, author of North Korea Tech website, “What’s interesting is that they want to inspect networks before issuing licenses but the criteria is unclear. They might just want encryption, or they might want more.”
A myriad of actions by activists to infiltrate North Korea and spread information in has come in the form of Christian missionaries smuggle in bibles, USBs loaded with Wikipedia and leaflets spread into North Korea by balloon drops, and a hackathon aimed to spread global information into North Korea cannot hold a candle to the quiet act of defiance in the form of free Wi-Fi.
An increase in rent for surrounding buildings could have been what tipped off the North Korean regime that its citizens have been able to pick up the satellite internet access through their cell phones and computers.
Its own internet: North Korea’s own intranet, Kwangmyong, opened in 2000. The “walled garden” allows for certain web browsers, email services, news groups and search engines to be used. The set-up prevents users from accessing foreign content such as news and television shows.
The World Wide Web can be accessed with no limitation by only a small number of people such as high level officials, NGO workers and ambassadors. Internet can also be accessed by a number of North Korean colleges but strict surveillance by North Korean authorities allows them to track anyone who views forbidden information and websites.
North Korea, a nation that has survived by limiting the flow of information will undoubtedly be paying more attention to foreigners in the upcoming months, a major set-back as activists continue to educate citizens.