Posted by: rbbadger | January 13, 2012

The Rodong Shinmun, the Internet, and the National Security Law of 1948

In today’s news, I saw that the Rodong Shinmun (노동신문), official newspaper of the (North) Korean Workers’ Party, has an on-line English website.  However, I cannot peruse it here.  To read it, I would have to go to Seoul and visit the Ministry of Unification which is, ironically enough, home to the largest collection of North Korean books, movies, newspapers, and propaganda outside of Pyeongyang.  The North Koreans bring in extra cash by selling their propaganda.  There is a market for such things.  Professor Brian Myers did much of his research for his book The Cleanest Race there at the Ministry. 

Shortly after the creation of the Republic of Korea, the government of Rhee Syngman passed the National Security Law (국가보안법, 國家保安法).  This law, which is still very much in force, forbids South Korean citizens or residents from joining organizations which advocate the overthrow of the government or from creating, possessing, or distributing anti-state material.  Also, citizens are required to notify the authorities should they become aware of anyone breaking this particular law.  There have been people successfully prosecuted under the terms of the National Security Law recently.  Under the provisions of the law, the Korean Communications Standards Commission can block any website deemed to be in violation.  So while you can read the Bright Leader and Great Successor’s latest musings, you cannot do so here. 

You can read more about this by clicking here.  And if you were curious to know what kind of stories the Rodong Shinmun reports, you can read Professor Andrei Lankov’s column by clicking here.  Professor Lankov, who is from Russia and who is a professor of Korean history here, actually did part of his studies at the Kim Il Sung University in Pyeongyang.


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