I'm linking to this BBC report not because I believe it carries any particular insight into the conditions within that unhappy hole, or that it heralds the imminent fall of the Kim dynasty there, but because of the last six paragraphs.
Cell phones. We take them for granted. But now the Norks are trying to back pedal from their decision to allow them into the Juche Paradise beginning back in late November of 2002.
Here's the Beeb's conclusion:
"Despite the strict measures, mobile phones have served as conveyer belts of information from the outside world to help combat decades of state-sponsored propaganda and misinformation, defectors say.
How to maintain the closure of the society in this globalized world community? This is a huge dilemma for North Korea to keep the hermit kingdom afloat."
I began participating in online forums in 1997. Since then I've published my opinion that control of media and public access to communication has been the hallmark of every totalitarian regime since the inception of the printing press scores, maybe even hundreds, of times. I also believe that the core incompetence of a regime relates directly to the standard of brutality it practices against its population.
By any reasonable standard, the headshed in Pyongyang is staffed exclusively by people who wear loafers because shoelaces are beyond them.
By importing cell phones - even if they only reached sort-of-communist-today China, they let the inmates have access to the keys to a world beyond the Yalu or the DMZ.
Now they are busily killing people publicly and struggling to confiscate all the phones. They brought a candle into the magazine to check out their gunpowder supplies, and now they are trying to hold the door shut to contain the explosion.
I think I may have to set aside a chunk of time to find out more about current conditions there. I'd hate to wake up one morning and be surprised by the fall of the Kim regime.
I tell a lie. I wouldn't mind at all.