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Asia

Seoul blocks North Korean online propaganda

South Korea has been trying to stop its citizens from following links to North Korea's propaganda website, www.uriminzokkiri.com. Pyongyang has been using Twitter to post anti-Seoul and anti-Washington statements.

North Korea's regime has become an avid user of the Internet

North Korea's regime has become an avid user of the Internet

The North Korean leadership has become an avid user of the Internet this summer. Pro-government users have already uploaded dozens of videos praising leader Kim Jong-Il to YouTube and this week they started tweeting – posting micro-messages via the social networking site Twitter, using the name "auriminzok", which means "our people" in Korean.

Even though most people are blocked from using the Internet in North Korea, where only a few citizens have access to a computer anyway, auriminzok has already attracted over 8,500 followers.

Videos praising leader Kim Jong-Il have been posted to YouTube

Videos praising leader Kim Jong-Il have been posted to YouTube

The tweets and other online posts are often directed at South Korea and the United States, which are described as "warmongers". There have also been messages denying South Korean allegations that North Korea was responsible for the sinking of the Cheonan warship in March.

Links to official online mouthpiece

The posts on Twitter are usually linked to www.uriminzokkiri.com, North Korea's official online mouthpiece, which is run by the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea. The Ministry of Defence in Seoul said it could not confirm for certain that the accounts were held by the North Korean government.

South Korea has blocked access to pro-North Korea sites but Pyongyang has already started using different names on Twitter so that users in South Korea can bypass the block.

It has reportedly even posted programs on its website to help users bypass the block.

However, Seoul's telecommunication authorities said they were monitoring the Twitter account to ensure that South Korean citizens do not read the posts.

"Whenever the North uses different routes, we will block them so that no South Korean followers get access," an official told AFP.

Both North and South Korea monitor communication between their citizens very strictly

Both North and South Korea monitor communication between their citizens very strictly

South Koreans face jail if caught communicating with North

South Korea's National Security Law prohibits unauthorised communication with North Koreans and offenders face jail if they are caught.

Meanwhile, a spokesman for the US State Department has used a twitter account to "welcome North Korea to Twitter and the networked world," but also wondered whether the authoritarian regime was "prepared to allow its citizens to be connected as well."

This online cat-and-mouse game with North Korea comes as tension is already high over the sinking of the Cheonan and joint naval exercises that the US and South Korea have recently conducted to Pyongyang's great displeasure.

act / AFP / dpa
Editor: Disha Uppal

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