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back to article NORKS powers down whole towns to find pirates

Reclusive totalitarian state and US-hater North Korea has taken a very small step towards greater press freedom, although not through any humanitarian efforts of the Kim Jong-un regime. NORKS remains in last place in the latest annual rankings drawn up by Washington-based NGO Freedom House with a miserly score of just 96, tied …

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No - it can't be true!

You cannot seriously be suggesting that copyright infringement can have positive results. Don't you even care about the creative industries?

(I was going to put a note about irony here, but it would probably be wasted)

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Devil

Re: No - it can't be true!

Hmmm, here's a thought. In the Olympics of restrictive media practices, who would win the gold medal, the DPRK or the RIAA?

I wouldn't want to stake my retirement savings on that bet!

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Stop

Surely that's untrue?

They don't really power down a town then go door to door to check the contents of DVD players, that would require a registry of government issued DVD players that were specially designed to prevent someone removing the discs and could distinguish between mains power and an appropriate transformer running off some car batteries.

I think it's way more likely that this is simply propaganda, reported as fact in the Nork media to make citizens think twice about buying a cheap DVD from Chinese blokes toting sports bags, probably intended to keep the state owned version of blockbusters in business more than identifying dissidents, i'm pretty sure Mr Kim already knows that they're all dissidents.

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Re: Surely that's untrue?

>I think it's way more likely that this is simply propaganda

Or a leaked lobbying document by the MPAA

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Re: Surely that's untrue?

Assuming people have transformers and batteries ready. Actually searching a whole town in a day would be a logistical challenge, but I can imagine them doing it on a district-by-district basis. Remember that these are not the most sensible of security forces: They are paranoid to an extreme, and act accordingly. Measures we would reject as comically over-the-top might seem entirely reasonable.

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Happy

Re: Surely that's untrue?

"Measures we would reject as comically over-the-top might seem entirely reasonable."

Like the TSA ?

This is more likely just US propaganda - anyone sense us being prepared for another invasion ?

When it comes to paranoid in the extreme, us=nork . They have there gulags, US has Guantanamo.

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@jubtastic1: Re: Surely that's untrue?

"I think it's way more likely that this is simply propaganda, reported as fact in the Nork media..."

Neither the original article, http://www.northkoreatech.org/2013/05/02/dprk-moves-up-a-point-but-still-worst-for-press-freedom/ or this article in The Register say anything about this being reported by or based on information from the Nork media. The original North Korea Tech blog article simple states that their report is based on "information from the country".

"i'm pretty sure Mr Kim already knows that they're all dissidents."

That's probably not too far removed from the truth, but unlike the Nork regime, you seem to not realize that there is a distinction between those whose dissidence is strictly internal, and those whose dissidence has gone so far as to actually involved actions of some sort.

"probably intended to keep the state owned version of blockbusters in business". I'll assume that that was not intended as a joke. If the regime can starve their people to death in droves, then you surely can't expect them to care what kind of profit the culture industry aka the propaganda apparatus is showing, can you? The regime is concerned about ideological competition and the ability to define "truth", and about the control of information, and not costs and the profits and losses being rung up by the propaganda apparatus. I'd have thought that this would be painfully obvious to anyone...

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Re: Surely that's untrue?

Can't you open most DVD-players with a paperclip and hide the contrabande?

Wait, in the DPRK the only people who have ever seen, let alone bend, a paperclip are probably army generals or nuclear engineers.

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Trollface

Re: Surely that's untrue?

Or perhaps they just use this as a convenient excuse for why the power for the whole town just went out.

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Facepalm

Re: Surely that's untrue?

Yeah. We're like totally identical to nk here in the US! Why, I can't even count the number of times I've been bundled off to Guantanamo because a neighbor reported a family member for being disloyal. And obviously everyone in tue neighborhood pretty much lives on tree bark.

That's why we're all so fat.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Surely that's untrue?

Quote: "Why, I can't even count the number of times I've been bundled off to Guantanamo because a neighbor reported a family member for being disloyal"

Err... Are you trying to tell us that Senator Joseph McCarthy was a figment of our imagination?

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Unhappy

Re: Surely that's untrue?

>Can't you open most DVD-players with a paperclip and hide the contrabande?

It is not always easy or even possible, especially if you are in panic, expecting the Thought Police to break your door at any moment.

(I would recommend the use of those portable players, where the disk is spinning under a lid that is opened manually).

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Re: Surely that's untrue?

"Err... Are you trying to tell us that Senator Joseph McCarthy was a figment of our imagination?"

Are you trying to tell us that McCarthy had anyone sent to Guantanamo at all? You do know - or maybe you don't - that the only people who went to prison for anything connected with McCarthy were people who perjured themselves, right?

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Re: Surely that's untrue?

I'm not sure he even realises Joe is dead.

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Big Brother

Re: Surely that's untrue?

"... i'm pretty sure Mr Kim already knows that they're all dissidents..."

Probably true, but the NORK paranoia is spreading, inasmuch as they're beginning to fear their own downtrodden as much as they fear the outside world.

Read "Nothing to envy", and you will see that a populace exposed to external media cannot continue to swallow the "We have nothing to envy" propaganda. Mr Kim & his élite's position is slowly becoming just a little more precarious every year.

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Re: Surely that's untrue?

"I think it's way more likely that this is simply propaganda, reported as fact in the Nork media to make citizens think twice about buying a cheap DVD from Chinese blokes toting sports bags, probably intended to keep the state owned version of blockbusters in business more than identifying dissidents, i'm pretty sure Mr Kim already knows that they're all dissidents."

Why not go on one of those trips to North Korea, smuggle in a DVD player and some DVDs of anything from South Korea or the imperialist Yankees and then tell us about it when you get back?

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Re: Surely that's untrue?

"Err... Are you trying to tell us that Senator Joseph McCarthy was a figment of our imagination?"

I am getting on a bit but I wasn't born when the communist witch-hunts were in full swing in the USA. By contrast, the Kim dynasty has been mistreating their own people for 60 years and show no signs of letting up. Whilst the USA and other western democracies may have many faults, it is patently absurd to suggest that life in any of them bears any resemblance to that in North Korea.

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FAIL

Re: Surely that's untrue?

McCarthy was a self-promoting, career-destroying paranoiac, but there is a big difference between destroying someone's career in the movies or academia versus DPRK-style carting them (and their family, and then their children born in captivity) off to the gulag to often never be seen again.

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FAIL

RE: Re: Surely that's untrue?

Err... Are you trying to tell us that Senator Joseph McCarthy was a figment of our imagination?

Most likely the response from the poster would be along the lines of: "Senator Joseph McCarthy?? Who the fuck is he??????

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Re: Surely that's untrue?

Whilst I've not witnessed it myself, I've heard similar from people inside the DPRK; the facts as I heard them was that the power to a tower block could be cut off and the video cassettes inside VCRs then checked individually. VCR is what the man said; I've no reason to think it wouldn't extend to DVD players, although as I recall getting a video cassette out of a VCR is typically much harder than getting a DVD out of a DVD player.

I've also read, separately, that owning a TV and some kind of playback mechanism is a source of pride and it's common for neighbours not only to know that you've got it, but to drop in to watch with you. As such, to escape the inspection you'd have to have kept it secret permanently.

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Facepalm

How about a report on the accuracy of the press? Any country in which Murdoch's propaganda is published/broadcast would have to come in at the bottom of the heap.

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But....but....but.....

Fox News says they are "fair and balanced"! It's on TV, so it must be true!!

(Not to say that there aren't other blowhard networks on U.S. TV, but Murdoch/Fox is such an easy target!)

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But you forget about how those same countries will have... ta-da... Murdoch entities interpreting and reporting the results.

We win, yay!

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Anonymous Coward

So, if the power goes out, they hide the DVD player. Another alternative would be to buy a DVD player that had a manual release; you know, where you use a paperclip to eject it. I guess next the NORKS will be banning paperclips. I wonder if that also means that the use of Office 97 through 2003 would be banned. Clippy is so unloved.

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A clever alternative would be to swap it for a DVD player that is permanently loaded with a DVD containing copies of the beloved leader's TV appearences; thus 'proving' that you are a loyal citizen.

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What to buy, what to buy?

"Another alternative would be to buy a DVD player that had a manual release"

You don't seem to understand quite how things work under socialism. It's not like people can walk into a well-stocked store like you can and choose from a selection of similar but different goods: they buy whatever they can get and consider themselves very lucky. In other words, it's not that one day they said to themselves that they need a DVD player, it's that they got lucky and found a store, or a black marketer, who has a DVD player for sale.

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Happy

I have a cunning plan...

I think I see a business opportunity for stick-on DVD labels bearing the image of the beloved Leader.

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Devil

Re: I have a cunning plan...

@Peter Simpson 1

You sir, are a capitalist swine! (and I mean that lovingly!)

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Anonymous Coward

Re: I have a cunning plan...

How about a mightily-boosted LightScribe drive to personalise Pop-Tarts? You could make him wink, and stuff.

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So there isn't a substantial Black Market?

it's not that...they got lucky and found a store, or a black marketer...

I don't know the size of ANY marketing in DPRK, but this article (and others) indicate that black marketing is important in DPRK.

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Hide the DVD player? Good luck.

Your neighbours know you have it. A few years ago having a TV and a playback mechanism was a source of pride to be shown off (and often shared) with the neighbours. If the inspectors come to the door and you claim not to have one, someone is going to turn you in. Not only are they conditioned to, they're afraid not to. The first person to turn you in will be OK; everyone who had the opportunity to turn you in and didn't now has a problem.

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Coat

DVD Player

How many in NK have?

Electricity,

TV sets

DVD players

It's a baffling story. Hope my passport is where I left it.

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Re: DVD Player

I have no special knowledge or insight on the subject and therefore have no business addressing your question. But since you have no way of knowing this, I'll go ahead and take this one.

Almost every household in North Korea owns a Coby portable DVD player. The fact that these devices are battery operated very well may have something to do with the relatively low success rate of this particular anti-piracy method.

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I wonder how a North Korean NGO would rate the US government and media. If they watched Fox probably not well, although they might pickup a few tips.

It would be interesting to see how well they rate some places with iffy records on press freedom but that we happen to be friends with (say perhaps some of our friends in parts of the world with lots of oil under a thin crust of sand) as compared to the current #1 evil dude and biggest threat to humanity (and puppies) North Korea.

Theres no doubt the Norks are pretty strict, but a recent bbc news article suggested that it's nowhere near as strict as we are led to believe, smuggling from China is rampant and overlooked, cell phones (especially near the Chinese border using Chinese networks) are reasonably common etc. Maybe I'm just getting old and cynical but I'm not entirely convinced that certain elements of the media aren't making NK look even worse that it is (and it probably is pretty bad to begin with).

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What is a North Korean NGO?

DPRK is pretty much a centrally managed business deployment, no?

What qualifies as an NGO there? It cannot be very big...

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WTF?

@Rampant Spaniel

If a hypothetical NK NGO watched Fox ... they would see a TV presenter condemning the President - calling him incompetent and un-American, even - and *not being sent to the gulag with their entire family*. How can you seriously compare the two? Yes, the West has plenty of faults, but we don't have starving children dying in the streets, nor do we execute entire families for not loving the Dear Leader enough.

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Re: @Rampant Spaniel

I'm so sorry that went over your head. I wasn't saying the US government was as bad as the Norks. I was suggesting that our NGO might not be impartial, and that an equally impartial ngo could ridicule a propaganda outfit like fox.

As for gulags, let's see a fox presenter criticize their glorious leaders (rupert or palin), they'd be praying for a gulag.

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Linux

Eben Moglen

This is what FreedomBox is for.

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Paris Hilton

Nothing to see hear - move along now.

Now!

Isn't it a shame humanity has so much potential both for goodliness and nastiness and breath the same oxygen at the same times.

(No, please don't turn the oxygen off - we are doing a jolly good job of that ourselves no?)

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Boffin

Powers down whole towns...

Don't you mean "sporadically powers *up* whole towns"?

//I recall a night satellite photo that implied "power" was a concept only familiar to residents of Pyongyang...

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FAIL

DVD Player Registration

I'm sure the NORKs require purchasers of DVD players to register them. They know who has one, so hiding/swapping is futile. Closing up Kaesong makes me think Kimmy's getting ready for some serious repression to consolidate his power. Kim's playing defense while making pro-offense statements, but those in the know, know better. Tyrants elsewhere have had a bad time of it lately. How does Kim make sensible progressive moves without appearing to lose face? The kid's in a bad position. Unfortunately, faced with tough choices, hereditary tyrants usually respond by cranking up the pain. See Mssrs Assad, Gaddafi, Mubarak et al.

You can bet the West is doing all it can to destabilize the regime, because that's what the West does best. Unexpected consequences be damned. Unfortunately for the West, the DPRK has borders with Russia and China. That probably means the pot will keep simmering while a few million more NORKs die in the name of global something-or-other.

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Anonymous Coward

Gotta idea

Let's "kite" B2s over Turkmenistan!

Not that bored yet, you say? :P

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Ouch !

Some people gonna die.

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making this harder than it should be?

I'm confused. Wouldn't it be faster, easier, and more effective just to go in with the power on and check what's playing?

Nothing gives a very clear heads-up here we come warning like turning the lights off...

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