Cell Phones in the Hermit Kingdom


A whole slate of cell phone-related stories on the wires today: New Jersey is considering legislation making it illegal to text message while driving, and hopes to "give police more power to target drivers using a hand-held cell phone." Maine and Oregon are debating measures to ban under-18s from using phones or other "mobile communication devices when driving."

As one might imagine, the situation in North Korea is, err, rather more serious. According to the Associated Press, the hermit kingdom "has increased its public executions against cell phone users" in recent months, attempting to limit the flow of information from internal dissidents. As is the case with most stories related to Pyongyang, it is scant on details:

The phenomenon of executions of those who "circulate South Korean leaflets and sell videos and use cell phones are on the rise," the South's government-affiliated Korea Institute for National Unification think tank said in a white paper on the North's human rights conditions. No exact figures were given.

In 2005, dissidents in Yuson filmed this footage of a public execution:

If you missed it, be sure to watch CNN's bone-chilling documentary "Undercover in the Secret State," which details, among other things, how dissident networks use smuggled cell phones to relay news to websites like this. Parts one, two and three, courtesy of YouTube.