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China calls reports that it cut off Pyongyang's Internet 'irresponsible'

Beijing has criticized reports accusing its government of orchestrating an hours-long Internet outage in North Korea. The reasons for the disruption are still unknown.

China's Foreign Ministry said in a daily news briefing that reports of its government being involved in disrupting North Korea's Internet for several hours on Tuesday were "irresponsible."

Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying (pictured above) said the United States and North Korea had to speak to one another to resolve differences following a recent hacking attack on Sony Pictures that Washington has blamed on Pyongyang.

"We have noted recent US remarks and comments from North Korea…We believe that the United States and North Korea should communicate about this issue," the Reuters news agency reported Hua as saying.

Internet routed through China

US internet monitoring company Dyn Research told Reuters news agency that the reason for the disruption in Internet services was not known, but could range from technological glitches to a cyberattack.

North Korea was dependent on a single international provider for its Internet, Dyn Research said, adding that all Pyongyang web links passed through a provider called China Unicorn.

The country, with a population of 24 million, had only 1024 Internet Service Protocol (ISP) addresses, meaning that the number of Internet users would add up to just a few thousand, according to German press agency dpa.

Confrontation after Sony cyberattack

The Internet outage in North Korea happened soon after a hacking attack on the networks at Sony Pictures that leaked private and sensitive data, which the US has attributed to alleged sympathizers of the regime in Pyongyang.

Pyongyang praised the hackers, who had targeted the entertainment company because of a film comedy called "The Interview" based on a fictitious assassination plot to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

On Friday, US President Barack Obama blamed Pyongyang for the attack on Sony, saying he would respond to it "in a place and time and manner that we choose."

Pyongyang's southern neighbor was also the target of a cyberattack on Tuesday, when a data leak from its nuclear power plant operator was revealed. South Korea's President Park Geun-hye said that the leak was a "grave situation" and was unacceptable as far as national security was concerned, but she did not mention Pyongyang.

mg/tj (dpa, Reuters)

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