A giant hydrogen balloon catches the wind and floats swiftly upwards. The balloon travels 26 kilometers in total. It passes minefields, barbed wire, and steep mountains before releasing its payload on the lesser-known side of the world's most militarized border: information from the outside world. Pamphlets scatter in the air and flutter down to the ground, where ideally they will find their way into the hands of a curious North Korean villager.
This is communication with North Korea: balloons equipped with GPS trackers, shortwave radio transmissions, and smuggled DVDs of South Korean soap operas. For the most part, these communications enter an information black hole with no feedback.
North Korea remains one of the most isolated countries on the planet. However, in the past five years, the flow of information in and out of the country has dramatically increased. This is, in part, due to the efforts of a myriad of civilian groups in South Korea.