Robert King, the special U.S. envoy on North Korean human rights, has called for more efforts to bring the people of North Korea in contact with the wider world by weakening the regime's information blockade.
In a lecture at Ewha Womans University in Seoul, King said, "We must work to break down North Korea's government monopoly on the control of information and work together to increase North Koreans' exposure to ideas, conditions and reality of the world beyond the borders of North Korea,"
"I think people in North Korea are reaching out and trying to find additional information about what is happening beyond their borders and as people became increasingly aware of what is happening elsewhere," he added.
He cited a survey among North Korean defectors in South Korea and abroad, which revealed that 34 percent of people in North Korea regularly listen to foreign radio broadcasts.
All radios in North Korea have to be fixed to the state channel and it is illegal to change the channel. Only some 15,000 people are allowed access to the Internet and need to obtain permission to visit different websites.
He said he heard that a busy and rowdy restaurant in Pyongyang suddenly went silent when news of the execution of former eminence grise Jang Song-thaek came. With so much fear instilled in their minds, North Koreans are very "cautious about rising up and doing something" about their human right situations, he added.