Jocko Willink, a former Navy SEAL turned author, proposed a unique plan when asked on Twitter how he would address the crisis building between the notoriously closed off nation and the West. Instead of using bombs, Willink suggested dropping iPhones and using satellites to connect the internet-ready devices to free WiFi.
While the plan is unconventional, one expert stated that it could work.
Yun Sun, a Stimson Center expert on North Korea, said, “Kim Jong Un understands that as soon as society is open and North Korean people realize what they’re missing, Kim’s regime is unsustainable, and it’s going to be overthrown.” This makes it incredibly likely that the North Korean government would strongly oppose such actions.
In a similar attempt, South Korea used balloons to drop DVDs and pamphlets over North Korea. Once the effort was discovered, the North Korean government responded militarily.
Additionally, Kim’s regime is known to punish North Korean citizens who are found enjoying South Korean media, which could mean the deployment of internet devices could get ordinary people killed.
Current estimates suggest that the population of North Korea is about 25.2 million people, making the recommendation to drop 25 million iPhones capable of getting an internet-capable device into the hands of almost every citizen.
Further concerns revolve around whether dropping 25 million iPhones would be seen as a form of aid. Sun suggested that such a move would open the US to criticism as the action may be viewed as a method of “rewarding an illegitimately nuclear dictatorship” which “we know has committed massive human rights [violations] against its people.”
However, the US has limited options for addressing the crisis in North Korea, as direct military action against the regime could result in a full-scale nuclear conflict. And, the likelihood that North Korea is going to abandon their nuclear ambitions is slim.
“They’re not going to denuclearize until their regime changes and society changes,” said Sun. “This approach may be the longer route, but it has the hope of succeeding.”