N. Korea Wants Citizens to Be Tech-Savvy

North Korea's Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, whose sayings are followed by his people with a religious fervor, has defined three types of fools in the 21st century: people who smoke, people who don't appreciate music and people who can't use a computer.

Small wonder, then, the communist state's elite are rushing to become tech savvy in the Internet age.

"In North Korea, a job with the computer is considered a token of privilege," said Tak Eun Hyok, a North Korean army sergeant who defected to South Korea last year. "Everyone wants to learn the computer, believing they can get good jobs."

After leading his impoverished country into the elite ranks of countries that can launch multistage rockets and build atomic weapons, the North's reclusive Kim has set his eyes on a new frontier: computer technology. Under his order, the North is now pushing its best and brightest to learn the new technology.

His campaign is making fitful progress, however, hamstrung by U.S.-led economic sanctions that block the country from importing the latest computer hardware, and slowed by North Korea's self-imposed ban on e-mail and the Internet, where seditious, yet eye-opening insights on the outside world lurk just a few mouse clicks away.

Nonetheless, the North's 1.1 million-soldier military, the backbone of Kim's totalitarian rule, has been quick to embrace the Dear Leader's new directives. Today, the military, down to the battalion level, receives orders by computer, Tak said in a recent interview.

News source: Newsday - N. Korea Wants Citizens to Be Tech-Savvy

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