Asia - Pacific
North Korea
Index 2022
Score : 13.92
Political indicator
Economic indicator
Legislative indicator
Social indicator
Security indicator
Index 2021
Score : 18.72
Indicators not available because the calculation method was changed in 2022

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), one of the worlds’ most authoritarian regimes, tightly controls information and strictly prohibits independent journalism.

Media landscape

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), the government’s official mouthpiece, is the only permitted news source for North Korea’s media. The regime tightly controls the production and distribution of information and strictly prohibits independent journalism. A few foreign press agencies such as Agence-France Presse (AFP) and Kyodo News are officially present in the country but operate under close surveillance, which impairs their reporting ability.

Political context

Kim Jong-un, son and grandson of late dictators Kim Jong-il and Kim Il-sung, is the supreme leader of a totalitarian regime that bases its power on surveillance, repression, censorship and propaganda. He personally ensures that the media only imparts content that praises the party, the military, and himself.  

Legal framework

Article 67 of North Korea's constitution enshrines freedom of the press, but the regime systematically tramples on this principle. 

Economic context

The state controls all domestic media outlets. TV and radio channels are limited by design to receiving signals from government-run stations. Harsher border protections have made the smuggling of foreign media materials into the country almost impossible. 

Sociocultural context

The regime has allowed a widespread adoption of mobile phones, including smartphones, but has developed technical measures which allow it to completely control communications within the country’s intranet. North Koreans can still be sent to a concentration camp for looking at an online media outlet based outside the country. 


As a result of the regime’s desire for complete isolation from the world, journalists have been arrested, deported, sent to forced labour camps, and killed for deviating from the party’s narrative. In 2017, the government even sentenced South Korean journalists to death in absentia for only commenting on the country’s economic and social situation.