North Korea has again been ranked the second-worst country in the world for press freedom by Reporters Without Borders. The Paris-based organization has consistently ranked the DPRK at the bottom of the world in terms of press freedom for the last decade.
“It is no surprise that the same trio of countries, Eritrea, Turkmenistan and North Korea, absolute dictatorships that permit no civil liberties, again occupy the last three places in the index,” it said in the survey.
The news should come as no surprise to North Korea watchers. The government holds absolute control over the media, which delivers a centrally composed message through TV, radio and newspaper platforms. No independent media is permitted, citizens are prohibited from accessing foreign media and have no ability to connect to the Internet.
In North Korea (178th), although news and information was able to move across its borders to a greater extent, no one knows whether this will continue under Kim Jong-un, the son and heir of Kim Jong-il. The dynastic succession, the dominance of the military machine and the government’s desire for power give no grounds for optimism. — Reporters Without Borders, Press Freedom Index 2011-2012
A handful of shortwave radio stations target the country and are believed to be listened to by a small number of people with illegal radios. Additional information — most often DVDs of South Korean TV dramas — is smuggled across the border with China. Those paths were highlighted in a report published by RSF in late 2011.
South Korea was ranked 44th in the survey, a drop of two places from 2010.
Reporters Without Borders ranks each country according to a press freedom score, which is derived from answers to questions about press issues in each country. South Korea scored 12.67 in the latest survey, an improvement from the 13.33 scored in 2010 (a lower score means more press freedom) but the figures are not directly comparable because scoring criteria was changed.
Reporters Without Borders didn’t respond to requests to elaborate on the issues that contributed to South Korea’s 2011 ranking.
South Korea was blasted in the previous survey for its increasing use of the National Security Law to remove Internet content associated with North Korea.