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  • As a North Korean defector,

  • I was overwhelmed with emotion

  • as I walked through a gap in the Berlin Wall.

  • This ugly structure was a massive barrier to freedom

  • and a painful symbol of Germany's long division.

  • During that time,

  • millions of East Germans were plunged into the darkness

  • as their leaders tried to keep them from outside information.

  • But it didn't last.

  • Despite their physical division,

  • the German people had two powerful weapons

  • that could penetrate even the toughest barriers:

  • technology and information.

  • During that time,

  • to overcome propaganda and break the information blockade in the East,

  • West Germany used the power of TV and radio technology

  • to broadcast information to their East German brothers and sisters,

  • to help open their minds and change the country from within.

  • So, at that time, almost everybody in the East could receive these signals

  • except for a few isolated areas.

  • These places have become known as "The Valley of the Clueless."

  • Tragically, North Korea is still basically one big Valley of the Clueless,

  • as the Kim family of dictators have kept the country brainwashed

  • for almost 70 years.

  • And the unlucky people living outside the border regions, or the capital,

  • have little choice but to watch only the government propaganda TV channel

  • so they are essentially cut off from the outside world.

  • Growing up in this environment, I was so brainwashed

  • I even believed the leader was a God who didn't even go to the bathroom,

  • and my country was a paradise.

  • But I slowly began to see the truth

  • when I witnessed poverty, starvation, and death

  • during the famine in the mid 1990s.

  • I can never forget the shock and heartbreak I felt

  • when I witnessed a dying mother holding her starving child on the street,

  • and my friend's humiliation that she couldn't even offer me lunch

  • because her whole family had nothing to eat.

  • Yet, I was one of the lucky ones in North Korea

  • since I never suffered hunger, and more importantly,

  • I didn't grow up in the Valley of the Clueless.

  • I grew up on a hill of knowledge

  • since my home was just across the border with China,

  • and we could pick up several Chinese TV channels.

  • It's illegal in North Korea.

  • So I covered the windows

  • with extra thick blankets to prevent light, late at night,

  • and I watched secretly in my little world.

  • The Chinese TV completely transformed my life.

  • It not only told me my government propaganda,

  • that North Korea is the best on the planet,

  • I also developed a strong desire

  • to explore the outside world.

  • Thanks to the power of technology to spread information,

  • I dared to follow my dreams

  • across the border, when I was just 17.

  • Numerous other defectors also have told that they defected in search of freedom,

  • rather than hunger or economic opportunities.

  • But because many North Koreans watched the foreign media,

  • since even a meaningless drama can raise thoughts about the propaganda.

  • For example, North Koreans are so brainwashed to believe

  • that South Korea is a terribly poor country.

  • So when North Koreans see the South Korean dramas

  • they actually believe

  • that South Korean movie makers have to gather

  • all the cars in the country at once to film a busy street scene.

  • So when North Korean defectors arrived in South Korea

  • they were completely shocked

  • when they [saw] the crowded streets full with cars.

  • Defectors like my mom, who lived in the darkness

  • of a dictatorship country for almost 60 years,

  • now reveal how North Koreans are shockingly deprived

  • of the everyday technology that we take for granted.

  • When my mom first arrived in South Korea,

  • she was even afraid to step on the escalator.

  • And when she saw her first ATM,

  • she thought there was a man sitting inside.

  • And she said, "Oh, that little, poor man working there all day!"

  • "And without a window!"

  • I was completely speechless.

  • Maybe it could be hard to understand for an outsider,

  • but living in North Korea is like living in a completely different universe.

  • As technology has developed over time,

  • the North Korean regime has been forced to play an endless cat and mouse game

  • with the people to prevent outside information.

  • I first witnessed this growing up in the 1990s,

  • as people began to use VCRs to watch foreign contents.

  • This threatened the regime's official propaganda,

  • so the authorities had a clever idea.

  • They would suddenly cut the power in certain areas,

  • and rush into the homes to check

  • which video tapes were stuck in the video players.

  • So people who had illegal foreign contents were arrested

  • and could be severely punished.

  • But the external information continued to spread

  • as defectors and other people have sent USBs and dropped DVDs

  • into North Korea,

  • as well as a launching helium balloons

  • filled with supplies and GPS.

  • The fetter over technology, over information, continues

  • under the current dictator Kim Jong-un,

  • who has strongly cracked down on external contents.

  • Even recently, the leaders have ordered to search house to house,

  • searches to destroy banned music like K-Pop that can threaten the regime,

  • but the authorities cannot stop the outside information.

  • The potential for technology and information

  • to transform North Korea is exponential.

  • New technologies offer amazing opportunities to reach

  • North Korea's Valley of the Clueless.

  • For example, mini-drones can take videos,

  • and also deliver supplies.

  • Also we should send smartphones to North Korea to show people

  • how people in the modern world

  • can communicate and gather information together.

  • So the opportunities are endless.

  • Due to new technology, the regime, in the end, will be forced to change.

  • So I am filled with great hope for my country's future.

  • And especially standing here today in the formerly divided land

  • that has not only unified but prospered.

  • Even the area once called The Valley of the Clueless

  • in East Germany

  • now is called Silicon Saxony,

  • one of Europe's key technology centers.

  • So I firmly believe that my country can follow in Germany's footsteps one day

  • as information can penetrate even the toughest borders.

  • But North Korean people need help to awaken them and inspire them to change,

  • to bring positive change.

  • So we must continue to use technology to open their eyes.

  • As technology and information continue to spread,

  • I know my country will be transformed

  • from the Valley of the Clueless to the Hills of Knowledge.

  • (German) Thank you.

  • (Applause)

As a North Korean defector,

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B1 north korea north korea clueless information technology

【TEDx】Awakening North Korea's valley of the clueless | Hyeonseo Lee | TEDxBerlin

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    文化學生A4244454 posted on 2017/05/23
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