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US hackathon aims to find new ways of smuggling information into North Korea

Human Rights Foundation sends USB drives containing Wikipedia to North Korea via balloon.

Human Rights Foundation sends USB drives containing Wikipedia to North Korea via balloon.

The New York-based Human Rights Foundation is organizing an activist hackathon in San Francisco aimed at getting information safely into North Korea, according to North Korea Tech.

“Hack North Korea” will be attended by several well-known North Korean defectors, including Park Sang Hak, Kang Chol Hwan, Park Yeonmi and Kim Heung Gwang, to speak on stage and support the participants.

“When HRF brought two defectors to San Francisco this past February, we found that their methods could be augmented, improved, and even revolutionized through dialogue with the tech community,” said the Human Rights Foundation in a statement.

Participants will have to come up with an idea that answers a series of questions:

  • What storage mediums should be used to get information inside the dictatorship?
  • Where would one obtain the most inexpensive technology? How would information best be coded and loaded onto devices? Could stealth, auto-play, or one-click functionality be incorporated?
  • What markets and cities inside North Korea would the devices be sent to? How would this be physically accomplished?
  • Is the target audience the few citizens with computers, or the masses who typically just have access to DVD players?
  • How can we maximize the copying and sharing of information once it gets into the country?
  • How could this be done in a way that puts North Koreans at the lowest risk for government punishment?

The goal is to translate the best ideas into the work of defector-led organizations in the months following the hackathon. There’s to be no actual hacking at the hackathon – the aim is to come up with new ideas for getting information past the DPRK’s blockade.

The two-day event is part of the Human Rights Foundation’s Disrupt North Korea program, which earlier this year sent USB sticks containing Wikipedia over the South Korean border by balloon. They’ve also smuggled equipment and information through the DPRK’s border with China and used medium-wave radios to broadcast information.

Hack North Korea will take place on August 2 and 3 in downtown San Francisco. Find more info here.

(Source: North Korea Tech)

Editing by Steven Millward

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