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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at midnight on Tuesday on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the demise of President Kim Il Sung in this photo released by North Korea North Korean leader Kim Jong Un (C) visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun at midnight on Tuesday on the occasion of the 20th anniversary of the demise of President Kim Il Sung in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang July 8, 2014. REUTERS/KCNA   

Silicon Valley Hackathon Aims To Improve North Korean Press

A group of Silicon Valley tech experts will come together in early August to brainstorm ideas for spreading information in North Korea.

The two-day hackathon, hosted by the Human Rights Foundation, which focuses primarily on closed societies, will feature presentations by several prominent North Korean defectors who will discuss current measures used to spread information, The Guardian reports.

Despite the malicious connotations of “hacking” as it is often users, hackathon attendees will not be seeking to cause harm or steal data. Instead, following the opening presentation, attendees will split into groups and seek out innovative ways to bypass North Korea’s tight control of the press.

The totalitarian regime is notorious for its complete control over the media and aggressive persecution of dissenters, earning it one of the lowest possible press freedom ratings from watchdog organization Freedom House.

The hackathon is the latest effort on the part of the HRF’s “Disrupt North Korea” project, which partners with South Korean activists to overcome the regime’s monopoly on information through radio broadcasts and smuggled equipment. Most recently, the project successfully floated 20 large weather balloons across the border, loaded with pro-democracy leaflets, USB drives loaded with the entire Korean edition of Wikipedia, transistor radios and DVDs of South Korean soap operas.

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