North Korea, where more information is getting in

North Koreans have no access to Internet, nor outside TV or radio.  But despite censorship, information is getting through the Chinese and South Korean borders.

Slowly, however, information is seeping in. Traders return from China to report that people are richer and comparatively freer, and that South Koreans are supposedly even more so. Some of the traders have cellphones that are linked to the Chinese cellular network and can be surreptitiously borrowed for exorbitant fees.

Punishment for watching foreign films and television shows is stiff. The trader said a 35-year-old neighbor spent six months in a labor camp last year after he was caught watching “Twin Dragons,” a farcical Hong Kong action film starring Jackie Chan. Yet to the dismay of the former teacher, her 26-year-old son takes similar risks

At the same time, South Korea might be waging some form of psychological warfare against its northern hermit cousin/enemy.

After the country formally accused North Korea of launching the torpedo that sunk their warship Cheonan, South Korea has declared psychological warfare in retaliation. Their first missive into the hermit kingdom was a pop song.  Ended a six-year suspension against state-sanctioned propaganda, the South sent the message across the border through the airwaves. Before airing a rebuke from South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, the broadcast features K-pop girl group 4minute singing their song “HuH (Hit Your Heart).”

Out of curiosity, I looked up the group along with other big names in the S. Korean pop factory.  In the space of the last couple of decades, it is probably not implausible to say that South Korea is now challenging Japan in the quality and polished packaging of its pop exports.

Compare and contrast with North Korean fashion shows?
South Korea knows perfectly well from America’s experience that soft power in the form of cultural assaults can sometimes be far more corrosive and effective than long-range missiles and army built-ups.  The North Koreans have no idea what they are in for.
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