Domain name: .kp
Population: 23,479,089
Internet-users: not available
Average charge for one hour's connection at a cybercafé: 6 euros
Average monthly salary: between 20 and 35 euros
Number of private Internet service providers: 0
Number of public Internet service providers: 1
Number of imprisoned bloggers: 0

North Korea is a model of control of news and information in a country where all forms of communication are at the service of the regime.

The North Korean Internet, which operates like an Intranet, has been available since 2000 and can provide email, a censored search engine, a browser and a few news sites that have been carefully selected by the government. The only available Web pages have been approved by the authorities and come from the data banks of the Democratic People's Republic's three biggest libraries (The Grand People's Study House and the Kim Il sung and Kim Chaek universities).The information available is usually connected with science and is only accessible to a few handpicked people like academics and bureaucrats.To get on the network, cybercafés owners must obtain permission from the official Korean Computer Center (KCC) which controls all online information and is the service provider.

Cybercafés allow use of chat rooms and access to a restricted network. Police made several raids on places offering more open access during the summer of 2007.Since 2004, only foreigners and a few members of the government have been able to use a non filtered Internet through a satellite link with servers based in Germany. An agreement signed in December 2007 on greater co-operation between the two Koreas allowed access from 7am and 10pm for South Korean employees on the Kaesung industrial complex north of the demilitarised zone and at the tourist site at Mont Kumgang-san (Diamond Mountain), in the east of the country, until 2008.

Internet at the service of the regime's propaganda

Only two websites are hosted under the domain name ".kp": the KCC (kcce.kp), which keeps the North Korean network under surveillance, and that of the governmental portal http://www.naenara.kp.But government propaganda is not limited to these two sites. The official news agency, the Korean Central New Agency, kcna.co.jp, is supplied by North Koreans producing propaganda from Japan.The headlines of the articles reflect Kim Jong-il's schedule and are put out in English, Russian and Spanish. The same goes for the website Uriminzokkiri.com, which is devoted to the glory of the"Dear Leader" Kim Il-sung, praising North Korea's"Juche" (self reliance) ideology and reporting on inaugurations and presents received by Kim Jong-il. There are a total of 30 websites of this kind and South Korean police have identified 43 pro-North Korean sites based abroad and which they say are hostile to South Korea.

Constantly vigilant about his image, Kim Jong-il has in fact setup websites addressed particularly to South Koreans. His government on 26 January 2008 even accused its southern neighbour of violating its citizens' right to information since sites reporting on Kim Jong-il's activities were inaccessible.

Even mobile phone use is regulated

The regime launched its first mobile phone service in November 2002 but soon banned citizens from using it, confining this privilege to the military elite.The regime interrupted the service in 2004 so as to"protect North Koreans from all foreign news" following a train accident in Ryongchun on the border with China, that left 161 people dead, but also because of the growing black market in mobile phones at the South Korean border. Since then, Pyongyang has retaken control of the phone network and on 1st February 2008, the government signed an agreement with an Egyptian company Orascom Telecom, allowing it to keep a grip on the network for 25 years, under KCC management. Since December 2008, it has cost almost the equivalent of 400 euros to open an account – equal to around ten month's salary. The black market therefore still thrives and Chinese mobile phones have reached the border, allowing North Korean Internet users to go online ... on the Chinese Web.

Links:
http://www.dailynk.com/english/: independent North Korean daily published by former North Korean journalists
http://www.uriminzokkiri.com/: Uriminzokkiri, website dedicated to Kim Jong-il, created by the government (English version: http://www.uriminzokkiri.com/Newspaper/English/main.php)
http://www.dprkorea.com/: website promoting tourism
http://www.kcna.co.jp/: KCNA, the official news agency
http://nkay.blogsome.com: collaborative blog on human rights
http://www.linkglobal.org/: Liberty in North Korea, human rights organisation (English)

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