September 6, 2016 Print

The people of North Korea are held captive in a society that lacks information about the outside world, but the Human Rights Foundation (HRF) and Forum 280 aim to change that with their “Flash Drives for Freedom” program, “with the goal of changing the totalitarian system of North Korea to a more free and open society by delivering information and education, instead of relying on diplomacy or military action,” reports a recent article from Business Insider.

Although North Koreans are not allowed to have “unapproved” devices that can play DVDs or read USB drives, they are widely available on the black market.

“HRF has collected tens of thousands of donated USB drives, which it erases and then loads up with content to counter the regime narrative,” Business Insider reports. “But it's not anything that explicitly says that the country is awful and so is the leadership. Instead, HRF and its South Korean partners load up the drives with content that has softer messaging. A television show from the South, for example, is a subtle way to convince indoctrinated citizens that their neighbors are normal people who have an abundance of food and a bustling economy.”

The “Flash Drives for Freedom” program has received widespread media coverage, including articles from NBC News, the BBC, Wired, U.S News & World Report, Grist, Co.Exist, the Huffington Post, PCMag, Quartz, the Star-Tribune, and the Korea Times.

“Outside information and knowledge will transform North Korea,” said Alex Gladstein, chief strategy officer for HRF and graduate of Atlas Leadership Academy's Think Tank MBA program, to the Korea Times. “South Korean soap operas, Hollywood movies, video footage of South Korea, interviews with defectors, music videos and even the Korean language Wikipedia can all be useful content. Through education we can help North Koreans liberate their country.”