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Students help tackle N. Korean regime with USBs

Students at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada are among the latest to join in a global call to send USB drives to North Korea in a bid to help its citizens learn about life outside of Kim Jong-un’s regime.

Flashdrives for Freedom: The university has already collected over 250 USB keys for the campaign. Photo: CBCDalhousie University has already collected over 250 USB keys for the campaign. Photo: CBC

An estimated 1.1 million North Koreans have viewed footage that was smuggled and distributed through a "healthy" black market

The Flash Drives for Freedom campaign encourages people to submit USBs so they can be filled with clips that dispel propaganda myths or contain messages about daily life that normally wouldn’t reach North Korean citizens.

“Nova Scotia could not be further away from North Korea, and yet there is a sense of solidarity and wanting to connect with the people there”

Content ranges from South Korean soap operas to Korean-language versions of Wikipedia and interviews with North Korean defectors.

Some 120,000 drives have been donated to date, with an estimated 1.1 million North Koreans having viewed footage that was smuggled and distributed through a “healthy” black market.

Robert Huish, a professor of International Development Studies at Dalhousie told The PIE News that while a number of universities around the world are taking part in the campaign, Dalhousie is currently the only one in Canada.

“It’s a very interesting dynamic because Nova Scotia could not be further away from North Korea if it tried, and yet there is a sense of solidarity and wanting to connect with the people there,” he said.

“It’s a really powerful learning opportunity for the students because even with places as isolated and disconnected as North Korea, we are still able to reach out and communicate with people.”

Huish explained that one of the methods for distributing the collected USBs is by inserting them into bottles filled with rice and floating them on tides near North Korea where fishermen can find them, or using drones and hot air balloons.

He said that although the campaign has only been running at the university for a month, they have already collected over 250 USB keys.

“We have drop-off boxes around campus for the semester and all students at the university are welcome to drop off their USB keys to get cleaned, formatted and submitted,” Huish said.

“So instead of entrusting world leaders to resolve one of the most complicated human rights crises in the world, we are seeing students of all nationalities doing what they can to show a powerful current of solidarity with North Korea – and I think that’s really encouraging.”

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