Andrew Natsios, Director of the Scowcroft Institute of International Affairs at Texas A&M University and former administrator of the US Agency for International Development, delivered a lecture entitled “The DPRK: Human Rights and Security in the Digital Age” at The Institute of World Politics on January 29.
In his remarks, Mr. Natsios described the impact of the famine of the mid 1990s, during which approximately 2.5 million North Koreans lost their lives. Since North Korea’s inception, its people have been subject to countless human rights violations. Unfortunately, the North Korean population has been told that the issues they face are a result of American belligerency. However, the digital age has discredited some of this propaganda, and it is becoming increasingly difficult for the regime to retain its legitimacy.
Mr. Natsios made clear the distinction between authoritarian and totalitarian regimes, and argued that North Korea is the latter. North Korea is unique in the world in that its society is totally dominated by the state. However, with increasing globalization, North Korea is becoming more exposed to the outside world. Over 1 million cell phones are being used in the country, and South Korean soap operas are increasingly popular. The digital age is eroding the authority and control that the state is able to exercise over its people.
This lecture was the inaugural event in a series on digital soft power sponsored by The Center for Human Rights and International Affairs, a project of Good of All and IWP.