Voice of America [VOA] reported on September 18th [Korea
time], citing the most recent report released this month by Freedom House, a
US-based watchdog dedicated to the expansion of freedom around the world, that
North Korea remains the most repressive media environment in the world.
The initial report published by the organization in May
2014, gave North Korea a “Press Freedom Score” of 97 out of 100–0 being the
best and 100 the worst of possible ratings. Subsections for legal, political,
and economic environments have been included in the recently updated version,
where North Korea rated 30, 28, and 29, respectively.
“Although the constitution theoretically guarantees freedom
of speech, provisions calling for adherence to a “collective spirit” restrict in
practice all reporting that is not sanctioned by the government,” the report
states. All media outlets within North Korea serve as “mouthpieces for the
regime,” and journalists within the country are members of the sole political
party, the Chosun Workers’ Party.
The influx of foreign information has played a significant
role in breaking down the barriers North Korean residents face to accessing
outside information. According to the report, “The use of USB flash drives
smuggled from China has improved the flow of outside information into North
Korea. Also noted was the pivotal role that NGOs play in transmitting radio
broadcasts with foreign content into the isolated nation. Household possession
of smuggled DVDs and USBs containing foreign programming and information
continue to rise, as does access to foreign television broadcasts for North
Koreans living along the China and South Korean borders were also mentioned.
Meanwhile, on September 13th, the DPRK Association for Human
Rights Studies released its own human rights paper, which asserted that among a
long list of other rights, freedom of expression was enjoyed by all residents in North Korea.