Amid efforts to block the spread of information and South Korean media by formalizing legal punishments for consuming or distributing outside information, North Korean authorities have recently begun emphasizing the importance of “reporting illegal behavior” to prevent the spread of outside information.

Daily NK recently obtained a photo of a signboard containing a 20-item list of “things to report” from a source inside North Korea. One item from the list that stands out is the order to report anyone who “possesses or propagates enemy [countries’] media, flyers (propaganda leaflets), or propaganda materials.”

North Korean authorities are reportedly sensitive to the influx of flyers sent into the country by defector organizations outside North Korea. The authorities’ creation of a list of “things to report” shows that they are determined to block their people from coming into contact with any flyers that entered the country.

“We regard the maneuvers committed by the human garbage [defector groups] in the South as a serious provocation against our nation, and we will be looking into [devising] a commensurate response,” said Kim Yo Jong, the deputy director of the propaganda department in the Workers’ Party of Korea, in a statement published by the Korean Central News Agency on May 2. 

Notably, the signboard also contains instructions to report anyone who “illegally breaks into a computer, violates software copyrights,” and “makes or disseminates a computer virus.”

Only a few people in North Korea are authorized to access the World Wide Web. It is also virtually impossible to access the North Korean intranet from outside the country. The signboard’s mention of computer-related infractions points suggests that there is a significant amount of information distribution and computer-related crimes occurring in North Korea.

North Korean authorities are informing people about 20 things they need to watch out for. / Image: Daily NK

Also on the signboard are orders to report anyone who:

  • Secretly accesses or distributes foreign materials via portable radios and computers, or
  • Watches, listens to, copies, or distributes unusual, decadent, or “impure” material or recordings.

The signboard appears to have come in the wake of the “anti-reactionary thought law” enacted late last year. The purpose of the law was to actively block the influx and spread of external information in North Korea. 

North Korean authorities have also conducted lectures encouraging people who have illegally consumed foreign media to turn themselves in, all in the hopes of more effectively blocking the spread of outside information within the country. 

The signboard lists several other anti-state behaviors in detail and encourages people to report anyone that they see engaging in those behaviors. 

Other “things to report” listed on the signboard include: 

  • The possession of secret items or the leaking of party, military, or state secrets;
  • Committing or conspiring to commit anti-state crimes or infractions against the people;
  • Illegally selling or buying drugs, precious metals, or state property.

In addition, the authorities are also encouraging people to report:

  • Anyone engaging in or creating an environment that fosters gambling, prostitution, or superstition (religion);
  • Those engaged in acts such as gang fighting, which pollute society, disrupt social order and cause social problems

The authorities’ inclusion of “non-socialist phenomena” in their list of things to report suggests continued attempts to reform the North Korean people into “socialist prototypes.”

*Translated by S & J

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Mun Dong Hui is one of Daily NK's full-time reporters and covers North Korean technology and human rights issues, including the country's political prison camp system. Mun has a M.A. in Sociology from Hanyang University and a B.A. in Mathematics from Jeonbuk National University. He can be reached at