The late Kim Jong-il bestowed upon himself many extravagant titles during his bizarre, iron-clad rule over North Korea. But here’s one that’s particularly interesting in light of the recent SOPA debate – “Internet expert.”
The DPRK’s Dear Leader fancied himself as such during an international summit in 2007. Seven years prior, he had asked U.S. Secretary of State Madeline Albright for her email address, indicating that the North Korean internet black hole was perhaps not as thoroughly opaque as we made it out to be — at least not for those at the top.
For the rest of the world, surfing those scant blips of North Korean internet activity is still a very mysterious and weird experience: Of the 30 or so known North Korean websites, only one of them, belonging to its state-run news agency and run by a company called Star Joint Ventures, originates from inside North Korea itself. Bereft of the usual DNS handling, it can be accessed directly at 184.108.40.206, and seems to contain very little actual information beyond — you guessed it — a log of Kim Jong-il’s recent activities, which include attending giant performances in his honor and rejecting human rights bills.
Kim Jong-il’s loyal subjects have thus far neglected to add “dying” to the top of the list
Dear Leader wasn’t content with just localized propaganda, of course. In 2010, he had the North Korean government create Twitter and YouTube accounts in a consistently tone-deaf effort to extoll the virtues of their headstrong Juche republic whilst mocking all of us vile imperialist swine. Accounts believed to belong to Kim Jong-il’s grandson, Kim Han-Sol also began to appear on several popular sites.
Dozens of Pro-DPRK websites and pages have also been discovered, originating from various countries. This one article in the Korea Times, for example, attempts to sway the rest of the world on how progressive North Korea has been with internet technology under Kim Jong-il.
Just like with their radios and televisions, the country’s internally-produced computer systems are all hard-wired to only receive signals from the inside. So exactly what kind of internet was built within North Korea is still very much unknown. Its late Dear Leader being remembered as the country’s foremost internet expert, however, might not be so hard to imagine considering the company he kept.