Activists are using drones to rain flash drives full of TV shows on North Korea

flightradar24 tracking drone flights project north korean activists
A North Korean activist who escaped the country in 2004 has admitted for the first time that his organization is using drones to covertly enter the isolated country. The group’s mission: to deliver entertainment to the repressed masses in North Korea.

With the help of the Human Rights Foundation, activist Jung Kwang-il and his cohorts have been using hexacopter drones to carry SD cards and USB drives into the country. The memory sticks are crammed with western films, K-Pop music, and Internet-free access to Wikipedia, reports CNN. Jung claims that his group, entitled No Chain, has been smuggling in the illegal imports since early 2015 in an effort to enlighten the country’s citizens.

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“I put great hope in these sticks,” Kwang-il proclaimed whilst holding up a USB drive during his speech at the Oslo Freedom Forum on Wednesday. “I believe this has power to bring freedom to my country.”

Since launching the operation last year, No Chain and the Human Rights Foundation have successfully managed to sneak over 1,000 SD cards and flash drives into North Korea. The details surrounding their activities —including the countries that they launch the drones from, and the drop-off locations— have not been divulged due to security concerns.

Kwang-il says the idea to use the UAVs came to him after he learned of Amazon’s drone delivery program. The Human Rights Foundation agreed to fund his group as part of its ongoing mission to challenge the country’s dictatorial grip over its citizens.

“The regime is trying to stop soap operas, Hollywood films, and things like K-pop. For the reputation as a strong group of vicious tyrants, they’re certainly quite fearful of something as simple as cartoons and TV programs,” Human Rights Foundation President Thor Halvorssen told CNN.

Although activists have previously discussed the advantages of employing drones to spread external messages within North Korea, they have instead relied on more old-fashioned methods. In the past, South Koreans have used radio transmissions, and released balloons carrying pamphlets into the country, in order to communicate with their neighbors.

Earlier this year, it was reported that the Human Rights Foundation was funding a similar USB flash drive smuggling operation into North Korea using traditional modes of transport.


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