The South Korean Defense Ministry reportedly (North Korea Tech) stepped up shortwave radio broadcasts into North Korea from 9 August.

Why?

The North jams most, if not all, of the signals, few North Koreans own shortwave radios, and decades of similar expense and effort have resulted in … well, nothing.

Instead of spending money on radio programs no one can listen to, using signals the North will jam, it’s time for a new tool. The South should be investing in cellphone towers along the DMZ and in supporting efforts by defectors to infiltrate phones into the North (read more on those efforts from The Asahi Shimbun or The Atlantic).

These efforts have shown far more success in getting information out of the North, while also allowing the reverse to occur – getting information into the walled-off DPRK. A benefit of cellphones over radio broadcasts is that they allow not only two-way communication between the outside world and the North, but also uncensored, unmonitored communication among people inside the country. The ability of citizens to communicate outside of controlled channels, a key precursor to the formation of independent groups, was an important tool aiding last year’s Arab Spring, and led to quick communications crackdowns in both China and North Korea.

So, instead of wasting time, money, and effort on a decades-old policy of radio broadcasts that no one listens to, the South should try investing in something that works: cellphones and cellphone technology. For a country that’s home to the world’s largest cellphone maker (goodbye Nokia, hello Samsung), this would seem an easy, lucrative investment.

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