North Korea is famous for being the most clandestine country in the whole world. Most of the outside world do not know what is really going on in the country and most inside the country do not know what is going on in the world. But the situation has slightly changed then what it was in the past. North Koreans have started to put their lives at risk to connect to the outside world, it could mark a dramatic moment in the country’s brutal history.
Here, the internet is also dictated by the state government but as the increasing prominence of the technology in the country, the control has started to decline.
“The government can no longer monitor all communications in the country, which it could do before,” explains Scott Thomas Bruce, an expert on North Korea who has written extensively about the country. “That is a very significant development.”
North Korea’s Intranet
You will be disgusted if you had only one cybercafe in your area but I say be thankful for that, because North Korea’s capital Pyongyang has only one cybercafe which is also not accessible to normal citizens, that privilege is left to a selected number of people known as Elites and some academics and scientists.
When you log into the computer, it will be running Red Star(Operating System) – North Korea’s own custom built operating system. A pre-installed readme file explains how important it is that the operating system correlates with the country’s values.The computer’s calendar does not read 2012, but 101 – the number of years since the birth of Kim Il-sung, the country’s former leader whose political theories define policy decisions.
The internet they access is very narrow and lacking in depth.”The system they’ve set up is one that they can control and tear down if necessary,” explains Mr Bruce.The system is called Kwangmyong, and is administered by the country’s lone, state-run internet service provider.”For a lot of authoritarian governments who are looking at what is happening in the Middle East,” says Mr Bruce, “they’re saying rather than let in Facebook, and rather than let in Twitter, what if the government created a Facebook that we could monitor and control?”
The Red Star operating system runs an adapted version of the Firefox browser, named Naenara, a title it shares with the country’s online portal, which also has an English version.
Typical sites include news services – such as the Voice of Korea – and the official organ of the state, the Rodong Sinmun.
But anyone producing content for this “internet” must be careful. Reporters Without Borders – an organisation which monitors global press freedom – said some North Korean “journalists” had found themselves sent to “revolutionisation” camps, simply for a typo in their articles.
Beyond the Kwangmyong intranet, some North Koreans do have full, unfiltered internet access. However, it is believed this is restricted to just a few dozen families – most directly related to Kim Jong-un himself.
Kim Jong-il versus Kim Jong-un
During his leadership, Kim Jong-il would parade hundreds of tanks through the streets to show himself as a “military genius”.
Many observers say that his son, Kim Jong-un, must in contrast show himself to have an astute technological mind, bringing hi-tech enhancements to the lives of his citizens.
But each step on this path brings the people of North Korea something they’ve not had before – honest information, which can have a devastating effect on secretive nations.
“I don’t see an open door towards an Arab Spring coming that way any time soon,” Mr Bruce says.
“But I do think that people are now expecting to have access to this technology – and that creates an environment of personal expectation that cannot be easily rolled back.”
North Korea Jargon Buster
This is North Korea’s intranet, a closed system that those lucky enough to have access to can browse. Among the content are news websites, messageboards and other chat functions. Only the “elites” – members of high social standing – are permitted to use it, as well as some scientists and academics.
Koryolink is the official North Korean mobile network. Administered by Egyptian firm Orascom, it boasts over one million subscribers. However, it is not possible to make international calls on the service, nor can users access mobile internet.
Meaning My Country, Naenara is the name given to the main information portal on the North Korean intranet, as well as the specially designed version of the Mozilla Firefox browser.
Red Star OS
The Red Star operating system, used by computers in North Korea, is built on Linux, the popular open source software used by many in the wider world. Its introduction music is believed to be based on a classic Korean folk song, Arirang.
Source : BBC News