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[liberationtech] Hackathon for North Korea in SF / August 2-3

Yosem Companys companys at
Tue Jun 3 09:31:28 PDT 2014

Through its Disrupt North Korea project, the Human Rights Foundation
(HRF) is working with North Korean defectors and refugees to help end
the monopoly of information the Kim dictatorship holds over 25 million
citizens. Read more about our efforts at Motherboard, The Atlantic,
Wired, Ars Technica, and the Mercury News. As documented by North
Koreans, this influx of truth and culture is making change in the
world’s most repressive regime inevitable.

Informed by ongoing conversations with Bay Area technology companies,
engineers, hackers, and product developers, HRF is organizing a
Hackathon for North Korea in San Francisco on August 2-3. Our goal is
to help spark better ideas for getting information into the world's
most closed and isolated society. Just as a recent hackathon focused
on getting information out of Cuba, we are looking to get information
inside North Korea. It is not an easy task, as there are many
technical and political challenges and roadblocks, but it is
definitely possible. HRF has contact with several defector-led groups
that regularly send information into North Korea using black market
trade routes, radio waves, and packages dropped from helium-nitrogen
balloons. When HRF brought two defectors to San Francisco this past
February, we found that their methods could be augmented, improved,
and even revolutionized through dialogue with the tech community. It
is this community that can offer new perspectives to approaching the
current challenges.

Hack North Korea will be held in downtown San Francisco, where HRF
will provide a space from Saturday morning, August 2, until Sunday
morning, August 3, for individuals and teams to create various
innovative proposals for getting information into North Korea.
Competitors will address a range of questions: What storage mediums
should be used to get information inside the dictatorship? Where would
one obtain the most inexpensive technology? How would information best
be coded and loaded onto devices? Could stealth, auto-play, or
one-click functionality be incorporated? What markets and cities
inside North Korea would the devices be sent to? How would this be
physically accomplished? Is the target audience the few citizens with
computers, or the masses who typically just have access to DVD
players? How can we maximize the copying and sharing of information
once it gets into the country? How could this be done in a way that
puts North Koreans at the lowest risk for government punishment? With
a new network of thinkers, this kind of brainstorming can vastly
improve current educational techniques. HRF will invite several North
Korean defectors to attend and serve as expert advisors and judges
throughout the weekend.

HRF’s goal is to translate some of the winning ideas into the work of
defector-led organizations in the months following the hackathon. We
already have half a dozen committed teams and a small advisory group

If you are interested in participating in the event, attending as an
observer, or contributing with in-kind or financial sponsorship,
please contact Alex Gladstein at alex at

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