- Private papers and subversive humor being produced
- Popular and quickly disseminated
- Authorities fear a loosening of means of thought control
As part of the ongoing crackdown in the North, officials have put restrictions on the use of computer printers.
The Party Propaganda Department, National Security Agency, and State Security (police force) are tasked with establishing which households have computers and printers and where, when, and through whom did they purchase the hardware. They are compiling detailed reports on exactly how many times the printer was used.
In order to prevent a slackening in the authorities' perpetual policy of thought control printer users must register at the relevant agency. A seal is put on the printer only to be removed when the printer is then used. Before use, approval for the whatever is to be printed must be acquired and then the printer is sealed again.
Seals have been sued in the past to filter news from outside via television and radio but this is the first time they have been used on computer printers.
Most popularly printed are a collection of crude anecdotes about Kim Jong-il and indecent story of doubthul origin, which is thought to have entered through China, though the origins of the material are not clear. They are said to occasionally to find circulation alongside trade agency contract documents and other private papers.
North Koreans are starved of things to watch because of electricity shortages compounded by the general crackdown. These comparatively safe and entertaining samizdat printed works are gaining popularity. They aren't available in general bookstores or via the state publishers but get passed around between friends or through small scale purveyors of printed matter. All that's required is a little paper and the means to reprint.
The material is smuggled through China and the private data of high level officials is being disseminated along with recorded matter acquired from administrators. Computer users secretly copy and disseminate it, too.
Those from the elite and privileged official class tend to own such equipment. This particular aspect of the ongoing crackdown has led some to observe that "civilization is not permitted for North Koreans. To live here you must remain ignorant like a wild animal."
Translation by Danny Lee