North Korea Launches 'Chongseo 1.0', An E-Book to spread Ideology Among Its Citizens


North Korea may turned more open to South Korea, and the world, but its political indoctrination tactics toward its citizens remain unchanged.

To keep up with its political agenda, North Korea has developed a software designed to teach its ideology to party members and workers, that according to the official newspaper Rodong Sinmun.

Dubbed 'Chongseo 1.0', the software is an encyclopedia-like e-book, packed with curated writings by North Korea’s founder Kim Il-sung and his son Kim Jong-il, who also ruled the country between 1994 and 2011. It also contains information from combined classic works and anecdotes about the two leaders, as well as material related to the Kim Jong-un.

The software is available for multiple operating systems, including North Korea’s own Linux-based Red Star.

With the software being made available nationwide, the country is planning to develop Chongseo 2.0, an improved version of the software with additional features like voice reading.

'Chongseo 1.0'
A screenshot of 'Chongseo 1.0', an e-book made to spread North Korean ideology among its citizens

The initiative by North Korea is part of the government's wider effort to counter the penetration of foreign influences through the proliferation of technology.

North Koreans do have access to the internet, thanks to the country's available broadband infrastructure that include fiber optics. However, connectivity to the broader internet is strictly limited. Only foreigners and people from the government can enjoy the less restricted internet that is not within the Kwangmyong' intranet.

North Korea only has about 7,000 web users, most of whom are restricted from accessing the broader internet.

But with about six million smartphones in circulation in the country, North Korea's 25 million population has become increasingly aware of the world outside their homeland.

Although North Korea runs its own state-sanctioned intranet, foreign news can still enter the country. Digitization here is responsible for the entrance of the unrestricted information and entertainment, in the forms of portable devices like USBs.

Among a few, this is where the authorities have started experiencing some struggles.

Censorship in North Korea is considered one of the most extreme in the world.

With the government able to take strict control over communications, North Korean citizens are restricted to consume only those information controlled by the government. All media outlets are owned and tightly controlled.

North Korean citizens buying a radio set or television are required to get special permission from officials at their places of residence or employment. These devices are preset to only receive the government frequencies and sealed with a label to prevent tampering with the equipment. The removal of the official seal is punishable by law.

These attempts are to force citizens to only get their news from dedicated sources.

Most of the information North Koreans receive, contain political propaganda and promoting the personality of Kim Il-sung, Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un.

The government of Kim Jong-un here, has the absolute authority over and control of the press and information in the country.

According to Reporters Without Borders' annual Press Freedom Index, North Korea occupied the last place on its list in 2017.