All men are created equal. A government has the duty to protect its citizens, and if it fails, the citizens have the right to revolt and set up a new one.
These are ideas that gained popularity during the Enlightenment Period and influenced our Declaration of Independence and Constitution. But what happens if citizens don’t know they’re oppressed?
North Korea is famous for being called the “Hermit Kingdom” because it’s cut off from the rest of the world. Its people are subjected to anything their dictatorship demands and have no say in how they’re governed.
One injustice North Korean citizens are subjected to is a lack of information. They have no access to the internet and they’re completely reliant on information their government distributes. All media is run by the state to report as the regime sees fit.
As someone who spends a lot of time on the internet for both recreation and research, I can’t imagine living in a country where my government regulated the information I receive. I believe everyone should have the right to accurate information so they can formulate their own educated opinions instead of blindly believing what they’ve been told.
Information is power. We use it every day to make decisions for our own benefit and for the benefit of those around us. In 1946, the United Nations General Assembly adopted Resolution 59, which states that it’s a basic human right “to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers”.
Access to information allows us to learn for ourselves and to speak out in favor of what we support and against that with which we disagree. Freedom of speech is one of the most influential rights that we have. We have the luxury of using it to openly and honestly criticize our government without fearing for our lives or the lives of those around us.
However, the North Korean people don’t know that the government should treat them better. They deserve a government that protects their rights and freedoms as human beings.
If the North Korean people had access to accurate sources of information, they’d understand that their situation isn’t at all favorable. They’d learn that their officials are living in luxury while they constantly worry about where they’ll get their next meal. They’d see how oppressive it is to live in a place where you’re punished for thinking differently than the government.
The North Korean people deserve a government that takes care of and protects them. They deserve an environment where they’re free to follow their dreams. But until they can get access to information, they can’t fight for one. Just like the Enlightenment ideas led to revolution for change in both France and America, North Koreans need to be able to form their own ideas so they can decide what they want to change and learn how they want to be governed.
The freedom of information that we have here in the United States is often taken for granted. We all have opinions and reactions to the current events that surround us. Appreciate the ability to get online and search anything to your heart’s content. It’s one of the most influential rights we have.
Wesley Rodriguez-Diep is a sophomore studying international relations.