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Your Printer May Be Subject to Government Confiscation?!


Only in North Korea would a headline like “Guard Your Printer” or “Printers the Subject of Latest Government Crackdown” actually ring true. Sadly, the citizens of North Korea are dealing with more than just an assault on their would-be first amendment rights.  The government there is confiscating and destroying printers in attempt to control anti-state publishing.

North Korea is attempting to destroy “unauthorized” printers to prevent its citizens from publishing anti-state materials. While there are so many things wrong with this, one negative side effect is the impact on small businesses which depend on printers.  Very high cost printers and accessories are being “controlled”.

Random inspections of printing devices has become all too common.  Inspectors are actually trying to tie documents back to real printers to identify the source of antigovernmental content.

Essential printing services fulfilling a public service are in the cross hairs of what is essentially a government witch hunt.  Printer owners are now being subjected to frequent inspections since those printers can print high-quality color, which can be used in books, certificates, important documents, and other content which can be easily repurposed and harm governments in the eye of leadership.

Printer which have not been registered or have anomalies on registration documents are being confiscated.  Most owners don’t register their printers since the registration process is amazing complex and drawn out.  As a result, most printers are at risk. 

Worst of all, printers aren’t cheap and when confiscated, there is no compensation provided to the printer owner.  Not only is there business in jeopardy since they can’t produce any output, but they’ve also lost thousands of dollars that they invested in their printer.

It’s not surprising that purchasing printers is strictly controlled in North Korea; to buy one, you must apply for permission from the social security department, the state security department, and the publishing guidance bureau according to And after that, you must register the printer and obtain an operator’s license if you want to print anything. 

Because of the fear that printers can mass-produce anti-party or antigovernmental publications, capitalist books, propaganda leaflets, and counterfeit money, printers are a crackdown target.

COVID and the deteriorating economic situation are simply exacerbating this issue, and leading to those using printers in non-government friendly ways being tagged as traitors who are aligned with external enemies.


About William Elward

Founder of Castle Ink, William Elward has 20 years experience in the printer industry. He's been featured on CNN Money, Yahoo, PC World, Computer World, and other top publications and frequently blogs about printers and ink cartridges. He's an expert at diagnosing printer issues and has published guides to fixing common printer issues across the internet. A graduate of Bryant University and Columbia's Sulzberger Executive Leadership Program, he's held various leadership positions at The College Board, Bankrate, Zocdoc, and Everyday Health. Follow him on Twitter at William Elward's Twitter Profile