N. Korea dead last in press freedom: report
By Kim Young-jin
North Korea has again been rated as the world’s worst repressor of the press by a U.S.-based rights watchdog, solidifying its dubious distinction when it comes to media environment.
In an annual press freedom report released Tuesday by Freedom House, the Stalinist State scored 97 out of 100, with higher scores on the index indicating less freedom.
With the score, Pyongyang topped the report’s “worst of the worst” category comprising countries where “independent media are either nonexistent or barely able to operate…and dissent is crushed through imprisonment, torture, and other forms of repression.”
The North maintains an iron grip over its people by blockading outside information while building a personality cult around its ruling Kim family through state propaganda.
Belarus, Cuba, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Iran, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan trailed Pyongyang as the worst countries for the press.
The distinction came despite an overall improvement in press freedom worldwide due in large part to popular revolutions that toppled autocratic regimes in Egypt, Libya and Tunisia. The North blocked information related to those uprisings from its people.
Following the violent death of ousted Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi last year, sources said the North went as far as instructing its citizens living in Libya not to come home and did not report on the development.
The impoverished North has long been known as one of the worst human rights violators for its sprawling political prisoner system, information blockade and brutal punishment for those who attempt to defect.
Finland, Norway and Sweden ranked first on the list.
The report ranked South Korea at 68, designating the nation as only having a “partly free” press, citing “various pressures (that) impinged on press freedom.”
Among Northeast Asian countries, Japan fared best, ranking in at 37.