YHack x Flash Drives for Freedom

ThiNK is collaborating with this year's YHack, an annual student-run hackathon at Yale, to bring an exciting initiative to our community called Flash Drives for Freedom. The Human Rights Foundation started this project to collect flash drives for North Korean defector-led organizations to send into North Korea.

Flash drives are vital conveyors of information for the millions of suppressed people in North Korea who are closed off to the rest of the world. In a society without internet or independent media, and where the government maintains absolute control over information, these little pieces of plastic filled with foreign content are windows into the outside world. Once the USB's are gathered, all of the data is cleaned and filled with content proven to inspire North Koreans to disbelieve Kim Jong-Un's propaganda and take a stand. Content includes e-books, films, Korean dramas, and an offline Korean Wikipedia. Then, organizations such as Fighters for Free North Korea, led by Park Sang Hak, or No Chain, led by Jung Gwang Il, deliver the USB's into North Korea through helium balloons, human smugglers, helicopter drones, or other means. Both of these activists have visited Yale before as speakers for a ThiNK event!

At YHack 2018, ThiNK will be setting up a booth to collect used flash drives. We ask YHack participants and the Yale community to bring your obsolete flash drives and donate for an impactful cause! If you have no flash drives to donate, we will be accepting cash and venmo donations as well.

Look out for our booth on Friday, Nov 30 and all-day Saturday, Dec 1.


"North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), is the world’s most isolated society. It has been closed to the greater international community for more than half a century. Travel in and out of the country is restricted, media is tightly controlled, and its government and economy are operated in secret.

"One family has governed North Korea for the entirety of the nation’s existence. Installed by Soviet leader Joseph Stalin in 1948, the family’s oldest patriarch Kim IlSung ruled the country until his death in 1994. During his 50-year reign, a powerful cult of personality emerged around the man North Koreans refer to as the “Great Leader.” His son, Kim Jong-Il, and grandson, Kim Jong-Un, have ruled with the same charismatic authority, and created their own god-like personas.

"According to findings by the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, “there is an almost complete denial of the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion, as well as of the rights to freedom of opinion, expression, information, and association.”

"Any opinion critical of the government is banned, and citizens cannot access the internet. Immigration and emigration are typically forbidden, and dissidents are often sent to concentration camps for speaking out.

"Despite all of this, news and culture from the outside world have leaked into the country over the past fifteen years. Today, North Koreans receive outside information through illegal radio broadcasts and smuggled flash drives loaded with TV shows and other media. Technology is leading an information revolution for a free North Korea."

- Human Rights Foundation