North Korea has certainly been the center of a lot of controversy lately — from Sony Pictures’ movie fiasco The Interview and North Korea’s subsequent internet shutdown, to the revocation of development funding for a video game titled “Glorious Leader!” — North Korea just can’t seem to get out of the spotlight when it comes to parodies and bad press.
The country has a deep-rooted history of rejecting anything remotely identifiable with Western culture, which is likely why the Kim dynasty has refused to allow technological developments on par with the rest of the world.
It’s becoming clear, though, that Kim Jong Un is trying to change the country’s relationship with technology, as slow and unsuccessful as those changes might seem.
According to recent reports from the U.K.-based publications The Daily Mail and the Sunday Express, various British organizations had arranged for a group of North Korean journalists to visit Britain at the beginning of 2015 for an “educational trip” where they would learn about internet and website development.
Now, these reports state, the North Korean government is claiming that the trip might be cancelled due to Ebola fears; back in October, the country placed a mandatory 21-day quarantine on everyone arriving in North Korea to make sure that the virus did not cross its border, and government officials are claiming that it might be safer for the country to cancel the trip altogether than to deal with the post-trip quarantine of 46 state journalists.
Many experts are already predicting that North Korea is using its Ebola quarantine as an excuse to cancel the international trip, which was piloted in Pyongyang successfully back in October, because of “the insecurity of the regime and [its] determination to try to prevent any influence [upon North Korean journalists] by foreigners, aid workers or diplomats.”
While this reasoning wouldn’t come as much of a surprise, North Korea’s initial decision to enable the program is still very significant: clearly, even in a country that controls nearly every piece of media within its borders, understanding internet and website development is becoming extremely important.