Press Release — HRF Tech Panel at SXSW Festival in March 2016


HRF’s session “How to Free North Korea with Technology” will feature North Korean author Yeonmi Park, Yodok concentration camp survivor Jung Kwang-il, Silicon Valley executive Peter Hirshberg, and HRF president Thor Halvorssen.

“Creatives, technologists, and artists have a critical role to play in the struggle for human rights. We’re delighted to join them at SXSW to discuss challenges and solutions in promoting freedom in North Korea and beyond,” said Halvorssen.

HRF’s panel will address how soap operas and films are leading an information revolution in the world's most totalitarian state, and will engage the audience on how to get involved in the struggle for a free North Korea.

Peter Hirshberg is an entrepreneur and marketing specialist, who focuses on how new technology affects business and culture. Yeonmi Park is the author of “In Order to Live: A North Korean Girl’s Journey to Freedom.” Jung Kwang-il escaped North Korea after being imprisoned at the infamous Yodok concentration camp. Today he helms No Chain, an organization that evades Kim Jong-un’s censors to get information into the hands of the North Korean people.

North Korea is the world's most closed society. The average citizen has no way of accessing the internet, and leaving the country is illegal. Any opinion critical of the government is forbidden, and more than 200,000 people are in concentration camps because they have spoken out against the regime. However, over the past 15 years, outside information and culture has leaked into North Korea, smuggled through the land border with China, broadcast over shortwave radio, and floated in by hydrogen balloon. Today, the average North Korean accesses foreign media on flash drives and DVDs, and their knowledge of the outside world grows every day.

The 23rd annual SXSW Interactive Festival will be held in Texas from Friday, March 11 through Tuesday, March 15, featuring five days of conferences, panels, movies, interactive media, and music. According to festival organizers, SXSW is “a melting pot for experts in technology, media, and art to gather to discuss the future.” More than 30,000 participants are estimated to attend the 2016 edition. More details about HRF’s session can be found here. For questions about HRF’s SXSW appearance, please contact

Human Rights Foundation (HRF) is a nonpartisan nonprofit organization that promotes and protects human rights globally, with a focus on closed societies.