Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Dissent in North Korea

The Washington Post has an article about dissent in North Korea, and it looks like the trends mirror those in Eastern Europe during the last days of communism:

The survey found that cynicism about the government -- and willingness to crack jokes about its failures -- was higher among refugees who come from elite backgrounds in the government or military. It also found that distaste for the government was strongest among those deeply involved in the markets.

The most striking finding of the survey was the reach of those markets across all strata of North Korean society, with nearly 70 percent of respondents saying that half or more of their income came from private business dealings.

In addition, more than half of refugees who have fled North Korea since 2006 said they listened or watched foreign news reports regularly. North Korea outlaws radios and TVs that can be tuned to foreign stations, but consumer electronics have flooded into the country from China.

"Not only is foreign media becoming more widely available, inhibitions on its consumption are declining as well," the report said, referring to broadcasts from South Korea, China and the United States. "The availability of alternative sources of information undermines the heroic image of a workers' paradise and threatens to unleash the information cascade that can be so destabilizing to authoritarian rule."

The author adds the caveat that the refugees whose opinions are represented in the survey have strong self-selection biases, although he tempers this by saying that most defectors left for economic rather than political reasons, and that "their demographic background roughly mirrors the shape of North Korean society."

No comments: