Storytelling is an ancient form of communication that has evolved over time with technological development. Digital storytelling is not just about the transfer of knowledge; it is also a movement designed to amplify the voice of a community (Burgess, 2006). Everyone can participate because everyone has a story to tell. But what if your country ranked 196 out of 196 in terms of media freedom. How can you share your story and experience the potentials of new media technologies, if your involvement leaves you facing a risk of imprisonment or even execution?
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is the archetype of a ‘closed society’. Only an elite few have access to the Internet that I can see hundreds of people using around me in the University library. While we could all be considered ‘citizen journalists’, North Korean citizen journalists are few and far between. Their work is illegal and extremely dangerous. Ishimaru Jiro, a Japanese freelance journalist, began making trips to the China-North Korea border in the 90’s, where he would Interview refugees, shoot videos and write. One of these refugees, Lee Jun, was determined to become a journalist and help North Koreans understand their situation. He began filming in marketplaces with a camcorder stitched into a shopping bag. Jun and Ishimaro also began smuggling footage into these marketplaces. The videos were edited in Japan and sent to China, where a few hundred copies were burned. Traders on the border were eager to get free merchandise and within days the discs were being bought and sold in markets throughout the country. Click here to view Lee Jun’s Story.
The extent North Koreans have to go to receive or send information certainly makes you take a step back and appreciate the ease at which we can ‘connect’. Throughout this media degree so many terms are thrown around. We can now document events in real time. We are produsers, members of online fandoms, bloggers and Vloggers… I mean ‘Googling’ is in the dictionary. The sheer amount of research that has been done on ‘new medias’ and ‘digital technology’ really highlights just how out of the loop North Korea has become (and just how obsessed Western society has become). In a way it shows how easy it is to be left behind by such a fast paced developed world… it certainly makes you think and appreciate #deepthoughts #realtalk #inappropriate?
On a lighter note, here is a really cool time lapse of North Korea’s capital, Pynongyang, showing slowly but surely North Korea is not immune to change… (while I really enjoy this time lapse I also found this article… am I being fooled by NK propaganda too? aghhh!)