A gentle wind of change has been blowing in North Korea, albeit in the digital realm.
The technology laggard country is “on the cusp of a digital transformation,” according to a recent report.
Research from the Nautilus Institute shows that an increased availability of mobile phones and higher ownership of mobile phones in the North is forcing the country's government to change its ways.
The report says that increased communication options have forced rulers to deter North Koreans from posting what they deem to be ‘unsuitable comments’ rather than restricting its population from communicating through modern technology.
And while greater access is being granted, stronger punishments await those who are caught offending.
Meanwhile, according to the North's main telecommunications operator Koryolink, the local 3G network, which is described as "world class,” has just around 700-thousand users.
But the truly significant number is the increased subscriber base in the country, which more than doubled in the first half of 2011.
In stark contrast, internet access is only granted to a few exclusive groups, including elite families, central party members, national security units, and foreigners.
And even those that are allowed access, their use of the internet is monitored.