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Tweets from the DMZ: Social Media in North Korea

Social media has transformed culture, communication, creativity and journalism in every nation on Earth — other than North Korea, of course.

Wait — not so fast. What do we really know about social media’s role in the mysterious nation — or what role it could play in the future, in the open or underground?

Frankly, not much. But one of the few Western journalists who's reported from North Korea is piecing together the clues.

Get some insight and answers to your questions as Associated Press Social Media Editor Eric Carvin leads a conversation with AP Korea bureau chief Jean H. Lee, a social media-savvy journalist with firsthand expertise on the reclusive regime north of the 38th parallel.

Lee, named to Foreign Policy's Twitterati 100 list of Twitter feeds to follow, has made more than a dozen trips to North Korea and is the only American reporter with permission to travel there regularly. If anyone can make sense of social media’s role in the isolated nation, she’s the one.

Additional Supporting Materials (Click on "The leaders" and then "The next leader" in this interactive.)


  1. What sort of access to technology is typical in North Korea? Is there an Internet infrastructure of the sort that’s common in the developed world? Is there growing Internet access, or is it limited to those with certain government connections? Or is it hard to come by even for well-placed North Koreans?
  2. Are there any social networks that operate freely in North Korea? Is there evidence of underground use of social networks as a communication tool among North Koreans, or between them and people in the South? What about Koreans in the South, and elsewhere in the world -- what role does social media play in how they think and communicate about the North?
  3. What about the government’s presence in social media? What sorts of things does it communicate through its social channels? Has the regime used these channels to make major announcements, or are they more of an afterthought? Who are they trying to reach? And do they ever engage with other accounts?
  4. How about journalists who report from North Korea? How do you use social media in your job, and are there considerations you need to keep in mind given the unusual nature of the regime? Do you tweet when you're inside North Korea, or post on other social networks?
  5. What sort of potential is there for social media to take hold in North Korea? If that did happen, what kind of impact could we expect?



Eric Carvin, Social Media Editor, The Associated Press

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