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Yonhap News key source of outside info for N. Korean diplomats: N.K. diplomat

All Headlines 19:06 December 27, 2016

By Park Boram

SEOUL, Dec. 27 (Yonhap) -- The first thing North Korean diplomats do at their office is click on Yonhap News Agency's latest updates about their country, a high-profile defector said Tuesday, highlighting the access to outside news that Pyongyang's foreign service workers enjoy.

"The first website North Korea diplomats open on their computers is Yonhap News," Thae Yong-ho, formerly a minister at the North Korean Embassy in London, said in his first press briefing. With his wife and two sons, he defected to South Korea in July.

"The North Korea section of the Yonhap News (home page) compiles all the local and overseas news reports comprehensively.... This is where we get to know our enemies view of us and prepare ourselves in advance," he said.

"It is not difficult for overseas-dispatched officials to have access to the Internet," he said, adding that Yonhap News' smartphone app is also a common source of news for North Korean diplomats.

Still, such outside news is heavily restricted for other government officials, even in the top echelons, he said. "The North Korea system can only sustain itself by shutting out outside information ... the day such external information makes inroads, the North would fall apart," he highlighted.

Still, South Korean movies and dramas are so widespread among North Koreans that the regime is struggling to crack down on them.

With complete access to the Internet, North Korea diplomats pay very close attention to publications, activities and reports about North Koren defectors in South Korea, he said.

"I read every article he wrote and took great courage from them," Thae said, referring to a reporter who defected from North Korea and now works at a South Korean media outlet. "We came to South Korea thinking that we too can live well if only we work hard here."

Yonhap News key source of outside info for N. Korean diplomats: N.K. diplomat - 1

pbr@yna.co.kr
(END)

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