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North Korea ’s Internet. What does it look like?

North KoreaEverybody now knows that North Korea famously bans access to the internet for its people. But as a matter of fact, North Korea actually has a few web sites that work. Some of them even visible from outside the country. Most of them have always been accessible, but recently, a comprehensive list which includes all of them has been released by a US-based engineer.

The list has less than 30 sites. Most of them contain propaganda but there are also some which have ministry and tourism information or things like North Korean recipes and films.

The great unveiling

How did this actually happen? This US-based engineer sent North Korea’s main Domain Name System a request for access to all internet domains in the country. The server is normally programmed to reject any request. But, amazingly and surprisingly, this time it worked. The server didn’t reject it anymore and granted the access. The engineer immediately made the infamous list public.

Martyn Williams, the man who runs the site North Korea says that whenever the country releases a new site, it never makes it public. People stumble on it by accident. He said that most of these sites were known. What they weren’t so sure about was what else the North Korean internet might hide.

The Supreme Leader and his activities

One of the most frequent things that one might find when surfing the North Korean web is a list with the Supreme Leader’s activities. For example, on the Korean site for the newspaper Rodong Sinum, the Supreme Leader’s visit to an apple farm was presented. He supposedly offered guidance in fruit farming and many other activities.

Mr. Williams says that most of the North Korean sites are there to make the country go global. Of course we don’t know if any of those things or activities are true (probably none), but they want the whole world to accept their presence.

Simple websites

Most of the websites are very basic and take a long time to load. Those news-oriented ones do not update frequently or have all unique material. They do not get traffic, are badly designed and not user-oriented at all.

Art and culture

But North Korea wants the world to know that they too have arts and culture in their country. For example, a food site is full of North Korean recipes. It even holds a list with all the best restaurants in North Korea, including the Pyongyang Dog Meat Restaurant (we don’t need to tell you their specialty, do we?). Or if you want to watch a movie, they even have a site for these kinds of activities. The Pyongyang International Film Festival is very promoted this time of the year.

But this reveal does not tell us anything about the North Korean intranet. The mysterious, limited access system is what actually might raise interest. It doesn’t connect to the internet and it is sure to be more revealing about the country’s plans and affairs than any other film or cooking site.

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