Believe it or not, USBs are a significant form of sharing information in North Korea. Many citizens have devices with USB ports. So for many years, North Korean defectors have organized efforts to smuggle outside info into North Korea on USB drives to counter Kim Jong-un’s constant propaganda. But these groups were buying USB drives at cost with limited resources. Flash Drives For Freedom is a campaign that travels the world inspiring people to donate their own USB drives. As a collaboration between the Human Rights Foundation, Forum 280, and USB Memory Direct, Flash Drives for Freedom is significantly increasing the capacities of these North Korean defector groups.
You can mail them, drop them off at our location, or bring them to our events across the world.
Our activists on the ground research which materials make the biggest impact, based on information such as—which content is getting banned by the Kim Jong Un regime, what content North Koreans are asking for, what North Korean defectors tell us influenced their escape.
There are various means by which they get the content into the hands of North Koreans.
We created an installation that was itself a donation mechanism. Real propaganda from Kim Jong-un emits from each mouth. When you insert a USB drive, it literally silences him. It is currently traveling throughout the world, gathering drives and raising awareness.
We created posters in the constructivist, propaganda style as a call to action to donate. We sold them at trade shows and online. Each poster purchase donated 15 drives.
Any USB port could become a tiny billboard for the campaign.
The story was covered on many major news outlets. MSNBC covered it best.
Here is the full segment.
While the installation was temporarily stored in Los Angeles, on Oct 5, 2016, someone broke into the storage unit. There was an expensive TV in the unit as well, but he left it completely untouched. The man seemed to know what he was doing as he actually opened the cases and removed the heavy iron bases from them (which were used to hold the installation standing up), taking with him only the artwork, which had virtually no resale value. We never saw a trace of the installation again. The police were never able to identify the man. But we rebuilt the installation and it continues touring the world.
Of their own accord, people began collecting drives in their communities and mailed them to us. Bars exchanged drinks for drives. Kids canvased their neighboorhood. Preachers pounded the pulpit. At SXSW, anyone could get free tickets to events. All in exchange for drives.