In a society whose government censors every aspect of their daily lives, North Koreans rely solely on outsiders who take huge risks to provide them with films, books, and digital tools for discovery. Here's what we did to help.
Currently, the most effective way to smuggle digital information into North Korea is through the use of USB Flash Drives. Uploaded with digital files, these small portable storage devices are given directly to North Korean refugee-led organizations, which then work to smuggle them into the country using existing clandestine networks.
Through their efforts to deliver medicine and other vital resources into North Korea, The Human Rights Foundation came across these smuggling networks and immediately saw the potential. Where smugglers mostly provided music, movies and other forms of entertainment from around the world, the HRF found it to be the perfect opportunity to also give North Koreans updates on current events, science and other useful resources that are unfiltered by Kim Jong-un's government intervention.
Together with Forum 280, the Human Rights Foundation founded Flash Drives for Freedom, a non profit organization that collects new and used flash drives to donate to the North Korean Strategy Center. The NKSC loads the drives with content and then smuggles them into North Korea. The content on the drives exposes North Koreans to South Korean and western culture.
As a South Florida based company, we're no strangers to oppressive governments. Cuba is only 90 miles away from us and for the past 50 years, we've seen first hand how its citizens risked everything to reach the United States and sent money and resources back to their loved ones. Many of our friends and workers have shared stories with us about how the Cuban government would heavily censor outside information from its people.
So when word reached us about the organization, we not only recognized how important and impactful this project was, we knew we had to get involved.
Up-to-date we've worked to donate thousands of drives to the cause. From newly minted flash drives fresh from our production facility to drives printed with old logos of ours, we've tried to make the biggest impact we can.
We've also helped Flash Drives for Freedom with exhibits and promotion throughout many high profile events including the "Tech for Freedom" forum at Oslo Innovation Week 2016, the San Francisco Freedom Forum, and PubCon (Premier New Media and Optimization Conference) to raise awareness for the cause.
The exhibit itself was very effective in driving the idea home. There was a large board with dozens of Kim Jong-un's faces with an empty USB port in place of his mouth. This gave attendees the chance to "silence" Kim Jong-un by donating a flash drive and plugging it into the USB port mouth.
The design for the display was absolutely awesome. It gave people the chance to literally silence a picture of Kim by shoving a USB drive into his open mouth. A very clever way to collect used flash drives for the cause.
We also specifically gave the event organizers branded flash drives with their logo and a URL to contact on the back. This gave the booth something to also give back to attendees to learn more information about how the drives are used and distributed into North Korea. We're continuing to work very closely with the organization to help select and sponsor future events and conferences to promote the project to as well.
This might seem like a lot, but we are a big company that specializes in USB drives so we have the unique ability to help a lot more than most. That doesn't mean that you can't help out. Every single USB drive that Flash Drives for Freedom gets is critical to the fight against Kim and his regime. Just one drive can change someone's life for the better in North Korea, opening their eyes to unbiased outside information that may influence them to work towards peacefully changing their oppressive government.
If you'd like to donate or learn more about the cause, please visit http://www.flashdrivesforfreedom.org/.