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NKSC Media Dissemination Expert Seminar

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On October 22, 2013, NKSC held its second academic seminar of 2013 with the theme of “The Role of Media in Changing Socialist Regimes.” Following the opening remarks from NKSC Executive Director Mr. Kang Cheol-Hwan, a congratulatory message was given by Mr. Bae Jung-Ho, director of Strategy Institute of Great Korea (SIGK). Mr. Bae remarked that the theme of the seminar was timely and important because change in North Korea is a prerequisite for unification of the Korean Peninsula.

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Sohn Gwang-Ju, director of the Daily NK’s Unification Strategy Research Institute, introduced the first presenter, Dr. Shim Young-Seop, a faculty member at the Hankuk University of Foreign Studies, Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, who spoke on the topic “Official and Unofficial Media and Changes in Socialist Regimes: Focusing on the Experiences of the Former Soviet Union and East and West Germany.”

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In the mid-1980s, 90% of regions in East Germany were able to receive broadcasts from West Germany and eighty-five percent of East German residents regularly watched West German broadcasts. In addition, churches and private organizations throughout East Germany were active in informal information exchange through media.

Dr. Shim Young-Seop stated that since official exchange of media is nonexistent between North and South Korea, informal media support is desperately needed in each area. He also remarked that a roadmap for North-South Korean media development and plans to train media personnel before and after unification are necessary.

The seminar’s second speaker, Mr. Kang Dong-Wan is a professor of political science at Dong-A University. He conducted interviews with 25 local residents in the Sino-North Korea border region from July to September 2013. Using the results of his interviews, he presented his research paper Reception of Media and Challenges among North Korean residents in 2013.”

Professor Kang began distributing USBs, CDs, DVDs, and EVD (Enhanced Versatile Disc) players made in China, and claimed that South Korean dramas and movies have been rapidly spreading throughout North Korea. He added that these days, the use of mobile phones have spread in North Korea to the extent that it is difficult to do business without a mobile phone and discussed the current prevention efforts of the North Korean authorities to stop these activities.

Finally, Professor Kang stated that, “In order to facilitate change in North Korea through external information flow, a core area should be selected to have autonomy from central regulation and control.”

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The third speaker, Mr. Lee Gwang-Baek from Radio Free Chosun, gave a presentation on the “Current Status and Challenges of North Korean Broadcasts in 2013.”

Mr. Lee stated that if current broadcasting programs were diversified, increased broadcasting times, and solved transmission/reception issues, radio programs would be able to attract more listeners. In addition, the closed nature of North Korea to outside media means that programs broadcast into the country can help increase awareness about the outside world.