The internet dilemma and control policy: Political and economic implications of the internet in North Korea

Kyungmin Ko, Heejin Lee, Seungkwon Jang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


The Internet poses a "dilemma" to authoritarian countries. While it can bring economic dynamism to a country, it can also cause political destabilization by enabling economic and political information to flow freely beyond governmental control. Internet policies vary from country to country depending upon their own strategies, their level of economic development and international politics. This paper discusses and examines political and economic implications of the Internet in North Korea in relation to theories and notions of the Internet dilemma and control policy in authoritarian regimes. North Korea cannot move drastically from its restrictive and reactive Internet policy to a proactive policy unless there are radical changes of the regime with regard to international relations and economic development. It is expected that North Korea will gradually experiment building and using an intranet internally, and increase the level of Internet opening while arranging technological and institutional measures to mitigate the risks which the Internet may cause. Until recently, the United States and North Korea have had rows over North Korea's nuclear and missile tests, and will continue to do so for some time. These disputes affect North Korea's policy regarding the Internet. However, the political environment surrounding the Korean peninsula is changing very fast. Despite North Korea's rocket launch in April and nuclear test in May 2009, dialogue will begin between North Korea and the United States under the Obama administration. Given the recent changes, it is expected that North Korea will follow Cuba's control policy to minimize the risk of the Internet in the first instance, and then China's open policy to maximize the value of the Internet. When North Korea considers the regime is secured, it will open the Internet with some control measures in place, while free access to the Internet is currently allowed only in special economic zones.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)279-295
Number of pages17
JournalKorean Journal of Defense Analysis
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2009 Sept

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Safety Research
  • Political Science and International Relations


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