‘Hack North Korea’ the latest in themed hackathons

Silicon Valley knows how to do hackathons. The Valley’s libertarians and conservatives huddled this weekend at a hackathon in San Francisco, Politico reports. There have been others focused on immigration reform and creating local government apps.

But in what may be a first, there will be a two-day “hackathon” next month in San Francisco to come up with ideas for getting information into North Korea, North Korea Tech reports.

The Human Rights Foundation, the New York-based group that will host the event, said the hackathon is not about coming up with ways to gain unauthorized access to North Korea data but instead “spark better ideas for getting information into the world’s most closed and isolated society.” Currently, only the North Korea elite has access to the Internet.

North Korean defectors will attend the event to help improve on the current ways information is getting into the country. Those methods include “CDs and DVDs, USB sticks, shortwave radio, and leaflets dropped from balloons,” according to the article. A recent effort saw USB drives of Wikipedia in Korean attached to balloons that floated over the border.

“Participants will become familiar with the various ways that information and truth are smuggled into North Korea today, and gain an understanding of the technology landscape inside the country,” according to the Foundation’s release. “Then, guided by our North Korean guests, attendees will break into teams to come up with new ways to help end the Kim dictatorship’s monopoly of information on the 25 million people living under its rule.”

The organization’s website says Silicon Valley angel investor Alexander Lloyd is co-founder of its “Disrupt North Korea” project.


Illustration from KRT archives


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