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North Korea's Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground Is Transforming a Closed Society
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Yale University Press 2016
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Description
“A crisp, dramatic examination of how technology and human ingenuity are undermining North Korea’s secretive dictatorship.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
One of the least understood countries in the world, North Korea has long been known for its repressive regime. Yet it is far from being an impenetrable black box. Media flows covertly into the country, and fault lines are appearing in the government’s sealed informational borders.
 
Drawing on deeply personal interviews with North Korean defectors from all walks of life, ranging from propaganda artists to diplomats, Jieun Baek tells the story of North Korea’s information underground—the network of citizens who take extraordinary risks by circulating illicit content such as foreign films, television shows, soap operas, books, and encyclopedias. By fostering an awareness of life outside North Korea and enhancing cultural knowledge, the materials these citizens disseminate are affecting the social and political consciousness of a people, as well as their everyday lives.
 
“A fine primer on the country, based on extensive interviews with defectors.”—Times Literary Supplement
 
“A fascinating book.”—The New York Times
 
“[A] timely and cogent book.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
 
“A fascinating and intelligent overview of the ways that information is liberating North Koreans’ minds.”—Robert S. Boynton, author of The Invitation-Only Zone: The True Story of North Korea's Abduction Project
 
“A fascinating, important, and vivid account of how unofficial information is increasingly seeping into the North and chipping away at the regime’s myths—and hence its control of North Korean society.”—Sue Mi Terry, former CIA analyst and senior research scholar at the Weatherhead East Asia Institute, Columbia University
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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
11/15/2016
Language:
English
ISBN:
9780300224474
ASIN:
B01M4NVQER
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Jieun Baek. (2016). North Korea's Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground Is Transforming a Closed Society. Yale University Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Jieun Baek. 2016. North Korea's Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground Is Transforming a Closed Society. Yale University Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Jieun Baek, North Korea's Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground Is Transforming a Closed Society. Yale University Press, 2016.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Jieun Baek. North Korea's Hidden Revolution: How the Information Underground Is Transforming a Closed Society. Yale University Press, 2016.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2022. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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North Korea's Hidden Revolution
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“A crisp, dramatic examination of how technology and human ingenuity are undermining North Korea’s secretive dictatorship.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
One of the least understood countries in the world, North Korea has long been known for its repressive regime. Yet it is far from being an impenetrable black box. Media flows covertly into the country, and fault lines are appearing in the government’s sealed informational borders.
 
Drawing on deeply personal interviews with North Korean defectors from all walks of life, ranging from propaganda artists to diplomats, Jieun Baek tells the story of North Korea’s information underground—the network of citizens who take extraordinary risks by circulating illicit content such as foreign films, television shows, soap operas, books, and encyclopedias. By fostering an awareness of life outside North Korea and enhancing cultural knowledge, the materials these citizens disseminate are affecting the social and political consciousness of a people, as well as their everyday lives.
 
“A fine primer on the country, based on extensive interviews with defectors.”—Times Literary Supplement
 
“A fascinating book.”—The New York Times
 
“[A] timely and cogent book.”—Los Angeles Review of Books
 
“A fascinating and intelligent overview of the ways that information is liberating North Koreans’ minds.”—Robert S. Boynton, author of The Invitation-Only Zone: The True Story of North Korea's Abduction Project
 
“A fascinating, important, and vivid account of how unofficial information is increasingly seeping into the North and chipping away at the regime’s myths—and hence its control of North Korean society.”—Sue Mi Terry, former CIA analyst and senior research scholar at the Weatherhead East Asia Institute, Columbia University
reviews
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        October 15, 2016
        A crisp, dramatic examination of how technology and human ingenuity are undermining North Korea's secretive dictatorship.Baek, a fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard, synthesizes diverse research, including her own monitored visits and interviews within the hidden diaspora of successful defectors, to produce a comprehensible academic study attuned to the human toll of North Korea's oppressive regime. Despite the authorities' determination to punish any rebellion, the author argues, "over the past two decades there have been cracks in the state's control over the dissemination of information among citizens." A horrific famine in the 1990s necessitated tolerance for informal markets, which later established smuggling routes for new technologies like USB drives and smartphones. This both fed and was amplified by the stream of defections to China and South Korea, which continued in spite of the cruelties the regime directed toward defectors' families. Baek looks at the challenges faced by those who flee: "When defectors cross into China, their minds are opened and their worlds change." Her interviews with such individuals buttress her thesis that the new wave of information sharing serves as inspiration, despite the state's intrusive surveillance. She documents smuggling methodologies and the material that North Koreans desire, ranging from South Korean pop music and films to religious texts and Voice of America-style news broadcasts as well as Japanese DVD players and inexpensive radios, all available on the black market. Since North Korean society has a strict caste system, Baek argues that this amplifies the forbidden desires among less favored citizens to question the government and ultimately pursue a better life, despite the strong tendency to conform within an authoritarian state. Baek's writing is clear and patiently structured, which makes her interviewees' accounts of brutal treatment and the inner revelations caused by smuggled media seem more urgently affecting. An original, authentic take on the fissures developing behind North Korea's totalitarian facade.

        COPYRIGHT(2016) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

      • premium: True
      • source: Library Journal
      • content:

        Starred review from October 15, 2016

        Although North Korea is perhaps the most cloistered country on Earth, foreign media manages to infiltrate via radio broadcasts, balloon drops, and smuggling across the Chinese border. Through numerous interviews with North Korean defectors, Baek (fellow, Belfer Ctr. for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Univ.) examines how information from outside the country gets in and impacts the population. This book reveals a network of defectors, smugglers, and bribable border guards who traffic in DVDs, USB drives, and more. The content is typically not political, but rather popular movies and TV shows from South Korea and elsewhere. If caught, viewers face severe punishment. Despite the risks, natural curiosity and the desire for quality entertainment lead many to seek out foreign media. Consuming this information leads to gradual distrust of the government and compels some to leave the country. However, the author encourages readers to have realistic expectations. Viewing one foreign movie does not erase a lifetime of propaganda; therefore, those who work to get foreign information into North Korea should have long-term objectives. VERDICT An engrossing work that is essential for all North Korea watchers.--Joshua Wallace, Tarleton State Univ. Lib. Stephenville, TX

        Copyright 2016 Library Journal, LLC Used with permission.

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“A crisp, dramatic examination of how technology and human ingenuity are undermining North Korea’s secretive dictatorship.”—Kirkus Reviews
 
One of the least understood countries in the world, North Korea has long been known for its repressive regime. Yet it is far from being an impenetrable black box. Media flows covertly into the country, and fault lines are appearing in the government’s sealed informational borders.
 
Drawing on deeply personal interviews with North Korean defectors from all walks of life, ranging from propaganda artists to diplomats, Jieun Baek tells the story of North Korea’s information underground—the network of citizens who take extraordinary risks by circulating illicit content such as foreign films, television shows, soap operas, books, and encyclopedias. By fostering an awareness of life outside North Korea and enhancing cultural knowledge, the materials these...
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      • description: Political Science / Political Ideologies / Fascism & Totalitarianism