N Korea blocks win­dows of high-rises to pre­vent spy­ing

The Times of India (New Delhi edition) - - Times Global - Choe Sang-Hun

Seoul: North Korea has blocked the win­dows of high-rise apart­ments in Py­ongyang, its show­case cap­i­tal city, to pre­vent res­i­dents from look­ing down, or spy­ing, on the party and gov­ern­ment build­ings where its top leader, Kim Jong-un, con­ducts busi­ness, a news re­port said on Fri­day.

Un­der Kim, North Korea has en­gi­neered a build­ing boom in Py­ongyang, rais­ing a slew of high-rise apart­ment build­ings and dol­ing out the hous­ing to nu­clear and mis­sile sci­en­tists and other elites. But the build­ing boom ap­pears to have cre­ated a prob­lem: Res­i­dents of top floors of the build­ings can lit­er­ally look down on state build­ings where Kim, the North’s to­tal­i­tar­ian leader, and other party elites work.

In July, Daily NK, a Seoul-based web­site that spe­cialises in North Korea news, re­ported that of­fi­cials from the min­istry of state se­cu­rity, the North’s se­cret po­lice, had vis­ited top-floor apart­ments com­mand­ing a view of key gov­ern­ment fa­cil­i­ties in cen­tral Py­ongyang and in­stalled con­crete and other fixed screens block­ing the win­dows.

“The mea­sures were de­signed to stop peo­ple from tak­ing pic­tures of key state fa­cil­i­ties from top-floor apart­ments and send­ing them out­side North Korea,” Daily NK said, quot­ing anony­mous sources.

On Fri­day, NK News, an­other Seoul-based web­site that spe­cialises in North Korea news, pro­vided pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence that the win­dows of top-floor rooms in high-rise build­ings that face party head­quar­ters were blocked with slats.

It is not pos­si­ble to de­ter­mine the mo­tives be­hind in­stalling the win­dow screens. North Korea re­mains one of the world’s most iso­lated coun­tries, and its to­tal­i­tar­ian gov­ern­ment cul­ti­vates a per­son­al­ity cult around Kim and his fa­ther and grand­fa­ther, who ruled be­fore him. The coun­try al­lows no in­de­pen­dent news me­dia.

But the coun­try is ob­sessed with seal­ing off ac­cess to out­side news. All its news me­dia are con­trolled by the state. Its news­pa­pers and TV and ra­dio sta­tions carry only pro­pa­ganda and gov­ern­ment-cen­sored news. The coun­try also blocks the global in­ter­net to ev­ery­one ex­cept for a small por­tion of top elites. Un­der Kim, North Korea has in­ten­si­fied its crack­down on out­side in­for­ma­tion smug­gled through the bor­der with China by way of USBs and DVDs. Turkey

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A Seoul-based me­dia web­site pro­vided pho­to­graphic ev­i­dence that the win­dows of top-floor rooms in high-rise build­ings that face party HQ were blocked with slats

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