Activists use drones to smuggle banned information into North Korea

NEW YORK - Activists who are determined to give North Koreans a glimpse of the outside world have started using drones to smuggle banned information past the country's tightly controlled borders.

See Full Article

North Korean defector Jung Gwang Il says his organization No Chain began the deliveries in April, sending them from neighbouring China. Human rights groups say this is the first time they've heard of drones being used to slip items into the country.

Jung spoke to reporters Thursday before attending a U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea's human rights situation, which has been called the worst in the world.

North Korea severely restricts the flow of information across its borders, even maintaining a domestic-use-only Intranet for its citizens who are blocked from the global Internet.

As spokesman for North Korea's mission to the U.N. did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment Thursday evening.

Activists have used various ways, including balloons, to smuggle in items such as mobile phones and flash drives loaded with South Korean television shows and K-Pop music. Last year, North Korea opened fire on giant balloons carrying anti-Pyongyang leaflets that activists floated across the border.

Jung told The Associated Press that the drone deliveries now carry about 2,000 "storage devices" into North Korea every month. He flicked through his smartphone to show photos of a spider-like drone.

"It's more difficult than it looks," though there have been no problems so far, he said through a translator. Contacts inside North Korea have to be told in advance where the nighttime drop-off will be.

The deliveries are a high-tech alternative to signalling across the border at night, wading into the river separating China and North Korea and handing off goods mid-stream. "With drones, you don't have to employ people or smugglers," Jung said, but the drones come with their own obvious costs.

North Korea's government is already embracing drones, but in a far different way. Drones were among the military equipment on display in October at a massive Pyongyang parade to mark the 70th anniversary of the country's ruling party. And in early 2014, three crashed drones found in South Korea were determined to have been on North Korean military surveillance missions.

South Korea-based media reports this week said that country's military is pursuing drones of its own.

Jung is one of scores of North Korean defectors who have supported a U.N. commission of inquiry that last year reported widespread abuses by the government and warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un he could be held accountable for crimes against humanity.

Jung says he was held for three years in a North Korean political prison camp a decade ago, being tortured and watching 26 fellow inmates be executed or die of malnutrition. "I have personally buried scores of prisoners," he told reporters Thursday.

Now, he said, his organization is taking the commission's findings and turning them into videos that can be included in the materials the drones carry across the border. Flashing his smartphone again, Jung showed an image of one clip that featured him.

"It's easier to understand if it comes from a defector," he explained.



Advertisements

Latest Canada & World News

  • Plan for joint Olympic team with North Korea gets icy reception in South

    World News CBC News
    While Seoul forges ahead with plans to use the upcoming Winter Olympics to showcase inter-Korean unity, some South Korean athletes are "furious" at proposals to form joint teams with North Koreans, highlighting a broader lack of enthusiasm for some of the government's peacemaking plans. Source
  • 4 officers hurt in shooting in South Carolina

    World News CTV News
    YORK, S.C. - Four officers, including three deputies, were shot and wounded while responding to a domestic call in South Carolina. State Law Enforcement Division spokesman Thom Berry said by telephone early Tuesday that York County sheriff's deputies answered the call near York late Monday. Source
  • Glowing red lava causes more to flee from Philippine volcano

    World News CTV News
    MANILA, Philippines -- Glowing-red lava spurted in a fountain and flowed down the Philippines' most active volcano on Tuesday in a stunning display of its fury that has sent more than 34,000 villagers fleeing to safety and prompted police to set up checkpoints to stop tourists from getting too close. Source
  • Sixth straight day of Lac-Megantic jury deliberations begins

    Canada News CTV News
    SHERBROOKE, Que. - The jury will deliberate for a sixth straight day today at the trial of three men charged with criminal negligence causing death in the Lac-Megantic railway disaster. The 12 jurors were sequestered last Thursday and emerged for the first time Monday as they asked the judge for a dictionary and clarification on various judicial matters such as the concept of “reasonable doubt. Source
  • 'My nightmare is over,' says N.S. woman who faced deportation to childhood country

    Canada News CBC News
    Her suitcase was packed, but it turns out Debra Spencer won't be going anywhere after all. And she couldn't be happier. Spencer, 33, came to Canada in 1993 when she was eight years old, adopted by a Nova Scotian family from the Caribbean island of St. Source
  • Hundreds of teens in Denmark suspected of sending child porn

    World News CBC News
    Danish police say more than 1,000 people, mostly teenagers, face preliminary charges of distributing child pornography after sharing videos and photos on social media. Police say the material — featuring two 15-year-olds having sex — could constitute distribution of child pornography even though 15 is the age of consent in Denmark. Source
  • North Korea mocks Trump's 'nuclear button' tweet

    World News CTV News
    Hwang Pyong So, left, stands near North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, second from right, and Pak Pong Ju, right, during the opening ceremony of the Ryomyong residential area, a collection of more than a dozen apartment buildings in Pyongyang, North Korea on April 13, 2017. Source
  • Trump's nuclear button tweet was the 'spasm of a lunatic': North Korea

    World News CTV News
    TOKYO -- North Korea's state-run media say U.S. President Donald Trump's tweet about having a bigger nuclear button than leader Kim Jong Un's is the "spasm of a lunatic." Rodong Sinmun, the ruling party newspaper, lashed out at Trump in a commentary on Tuesday that took issue with the U.S. Source
  • Slow-moving landslide has Washington town on high alert

    World News CTV News
    UNION GAP, Wash. - A slow-moving landslide in a fertile farming region in Washington state has forced evacuations as officials prepare for what they say is inevitable - the collapse of a ridge that sits above a few dozen homes and a key highway. Source
  • U.S. panel set to interview Bannon after his fall from power

    World News CTV News
    WASHINGTON - The House Intelligence Committee is poised to question Steve Bannon, the onetime confidant to U.S. President Donald Trump, following his spectacular fall from power after accusing the president's son and others of "treasonous" behaviour for taking a meeting with Russians during the 2016 campaign. Source