North Korea builds up online presence: expert


North Korea has recently revived the use of its Internet domain name .kp as part of a campaign by the communist state to increase its online presence, according to an expert.

“North Korea appears to be waking up to the power of the Internet and wants its own place on the global network,” Martyn Williams of IT research group IDG said in an email interview with AFP.

An multilingual site from Pyongyang’s Korea Computer Center, Naenara, is currently available at http://www.naenara.com.kp

The Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries has a site at http://www.friend.com.kp, and the state-run Korean Central News Agency is online at http://www.star.edu.kp

“It’s not a great expansion of propaganda online so far, but a .kp domain name does strengthen the national identity of the websites,” Williams said.

It is the first time for several months that the North Korean domain has been functional, he said.

The new domain name went unnoticed by Seoul for a while, enabling access to the sites from South Korea. But authorities said Thursday they have blocked access, under a national security law which bans unauthorised contacts with the North.

The domain name .kp was assigned in 2007 and managed by a company based in Germany. But the domain and a handful of sites also managed by the company disappeared in the second half of last year for unknown reasons.

They have now been revived in a joint venture with a Thai telecoms company, Williams said.

In recent months, the North has also opened accounts at Twitter and YouTube but these were recently hacked by South Korean users who posted derogatory comments about the ruling regime.

The North also posted pictures on a Facebook site last year.

Despite the cyber propaganda campaigns, the North strictly limits its own people’s access to outside information.

“So far there is no indication that people inside North Korea will be able to access the global Internet,” Williams said.

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