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Posts by Martyn Williams
A Washington, D.C.-based journalist and blogger has managed to obtain details on web traffic to the Korean Central News Agency’s website thanks to poor security on a previous version of the site.
Writing on his blog, Dino Beslagic said he was able to access the site traffic data through a hidden interface page on the KCNA website. Rather than block off access with a firewall, the site allowed access to the page after simply acknowledged a pop-up window.
Access to the data enabled Beslagic to produce a graph of daily visitors and number of hits for the period from April 2011 to December 2012. This period covered the December 2011 death of Kim Jong Il and the resulting spike in traffic is obvious.
For most of 2011 until that point, the site attracted just a few hundred visitors per day. On the day Kim died, this jumped to 45,487 unique visitors on December 20 and 71,239 page views. Traffic quickly dropped off but settled at a higher level of between 2,000 and 3,000 visitors per day.
Traffic slowly rose through 2012 until it was averaging between 3,000 and 4,000 visitors per day in the second half of the year.
The switch to a new web design apparently cut off access to the web analytics page so the data stops at the end of 2012.
According to Beslagic’s analysis, Korean was the most popular language on the site. He counted just over 341,163 views of Korean content followed by 68,185 in Chinese, 38,489 in English, 20,439 in Japanese and 2,896 in Spanish.
A North Korean Samjiyon (삼지연) tablet computer sold for the impressive price of $546 on Ebay.
The tablet first appeared on the site on November 7 with an opening bid of $4.15 — a likely reference to the April 15 birthday of Kim Il Sung — and attracted 53 bids over 10 days.
The Samjiyon, which appears to be available in several versions, has been reportedly sold to tourists for between $200 and $250, so the Ebay price represents somewhere between a doubling and tripling of the selling price.
The buyer isn’t identified but the seller is listed on Ebay by his or her email address.
“Based in Canada, email@example.com has been an eBay member since Jan 25, 2002,” the site says. The listing for the Samjiyon says it will be shipped from Yanji, China, which is just over the border from North Korea.
Details on the Samjiyon first appeared in state media reports in September 2012, but it wasn’t until earlier this year that foreign experts managed to get their hands on the device.
The winning bidder on the Ebay auction will likely find the Samjiyon a responsive, Android-based tablet useful for playing a few games. North Korean school textbooks and dictionaries are also likely stored in the memory, but it probably won’t offer Internet access. That feature appears to have been disabled by the tablet’s makers, the Korea Computer Center, before it went on sale.
North Korea began construction this week on a new industrial zone in Kaesong that it hopes will attract high-tech companies.
The ground-breaking ceremony for the Kaesong Hi-Tech Industrial Park took place on Monday, less than a month after three foreign companies signed a deal with the government to work on design and construction of the park.
North Korea’s state media hasn’t said much about its plans for the zone since it announced it at an international conference on special economic zones that took place in Pyongyang in October.
But this week, state media reported on both the high-tech park and ground breaking.
“The park will have an IT center, hotel, dwelling houses, school and other buildings, as well as a power plant,” the Korean Central News Agency said in a report.
A month ago when the project was first disclosed, KCNA named three companies that had signed on to design and develop the park. They were Singapore’s Jurong Consultants, a building design and management company, and OKP Holdings, a construction and road maintenance company, and Hong Kong’s P&T Architects and Engineers.
This week, KCNA said the park is being built by an organization called the “Peace and Economy Development Group.” The group, the news agency said, is made up of companies from Hong Kong, Singapore, Australia, the Middle East and Africa.
It named two staff members of the group. Jang Su Nam, who was named a “representative,” and Heh Teck Siong, the general manager.
The exact location of the high-tech zone wasn’t disclosed in a Korean Central News Agency report, but it would make logistic sense for it to be within reach of the infrastructure built for the general-purpose Kaesong Industrial Complex, which opened in 2005.
North Korea recently reopened the existing Kaesong Industrial Complex after a five-month long work halt prompted by tensions between North and South Korea.
One of the surprises in North Korea’s recently-launched Samjiyon (삼지연) tablet was the inclusion of Angry Birds, the globally-popular game that involves shooting animated birds to destroy structures and animated pigs.
In July, when I was reviewing the Samjiyon, I contacted game-maker Rovio to ask about its inclusion in the device. Despite several attempts to get comment, the company never replied.
Last week, The Washington Post managed to have a bit more luck.
A spokesman for the developer said via e-mail: “Angry Birds Rio has not been localized into Korean, and Rovio Entertainment has no affiliation with the version of the game being shown on the Samjiyon tablet.” — Washington Post, November 6, 2013.
So, it seems that the version on the Samjiyon, which is in Korean, is an unofficial version of the game.
If so, it was likely reprogrammed by the Korea Computer Center, the Pyongyang-based computer software development center and the organization that produces the Samjiyon.
The tablet is largely a software effort. The hardware comes from vendors in China and the Korea Computer Center localizes the Android operating system and develops local applications.
A model of North Korea’s Samjiyon (삼지연) tablet is up for sale on Ebay.
It appeared on the morning on Thursday, November 7, and appears to have been listed by a Canadian account with a shipping location of Yanji in China. Yanji sits just across the border from North Korea.
Its appearance followed a second-round of publicity for the Samjiyon that coincided with a review published by 38 North.
The Android-based tablet debuted at an opening bid of $4.15 — a possible reference to April 15, the “Day of the Sun” holiday that marks Kim Il Sung’s birthday — and its price has been jumping ever since.
At time of writing with 7 days left on the 10-day auction, the top bid stands at $410.
That’s not a bad premium on a product that sells for around $200, according to reports from tourists who have seen it on sale in North Korea.
The tablet on Ebay appears to have slightly lower specifications than the model reviewed by North Korea Tech in August.
It has a 1GHz processor, 7-inch screen with 800 by 480 pixel resolution, 4GB of memory, measures 196 by 123 by 12 millimeters, and weighs 250 grams.
The previously reviewed tablet had a faster 1.2GHz processor, 8GB or 16GB of memory, and a 7-inch screen with higher resolution of 1,024 by 768 pixels. It measured 187 by 124 by 10 millimeters and weighed 250 grams, which made it slightly smaller with an equal weight.
And unlike the previously-reviewed Samjiyon, the Ebay model doesn’t have an internal TV antenna. A cable is supplied that allows an antenna to be connected to the computer.
The various public and private radio stations that aim broadcasts at North Korea have just refreshed their broadcast schedules for the winter season.
In addition to the publicly-funded outlets, there are several private stations. Their editorial balance at the stations differ although none are pro-regime stations. Some are jammed by North Korea making reception difficult — but not impossible — inside the country.
Given the right conditions, the broadcasts should be audible across a large part of Northeast Asia and, in some cases, around the world.
All times at UTC and all broadcasts in Korean unless noted.
== International Broadcasters ==
1200 to 1500 (2100 to 0000 local) on 1,188kHz, 5,890kHz, 7,235kHz and 9,800kHz
1900 to 2100 (0400 to 0600 local) on 648kHz, 5,875kHz, 9,390kHz and 9,800kHz
1500 to 1700 (0000 to 0200 local) on 5,855kHz, 7,210kHz, 11585kHz
1700 to 1900 (0200 to 0400 local) on 5,855kHz and 9,720kHz
2100 to 2200 (0600 to 0700 local) on 9,385kHz and 11,995kHz
0400 to 0000 (1300 to 0900 local) on 972kHz and 6,015kHz
1000 to 0400 (1900 to 1300 local) on 1,170kHz
== South Korea to North Korea ==
Free North Korea Radio (자유북한방송)
1530 to 1630 (0030 to 0130 local) on 6,275kHz
Open Radio for North Korea (열린북한방송)
1230 to 1430 (2130 to 2330 local) on 9,910kHz
1900 to 1955 (0400 to 0455 local) on 774kHz and 92.3MHz via MBC Chuncheon
2100 to 2200 (0600 to 0700 local) on 7,470kHz
Radio Free Choson (자유조선방송)
1300 to 1400 (2200 to 2300 local) on 9,300kHz
1400 to 1600 (2300 to 0100 local) on 9,775kHz
North Korea Reform Radio (북한개혁방송)
1400 to 1600 (2300 to 0100 local) on 7,590kHz and 9,380kHz
== Japan to North Korea ==
1330 to 1430 (2230 to 2300 local) on 5,910kHz or 5,985kHz or 6,140kHz via Japan (in Japanese on Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri; Chinese on Wed; English on Sat; Korean on Sun)
1400 to 1430 (2300 to 2330 local) on 5,910kHz or 5,985kHz or 6,140kHz via Japan (in Korean on Mon, Wed; Japanese on Tue, Thu, Fri, Sun; English on Sat)
2000 to 2030 (0500 to 0530 local) on 5,975kHz or 5,985kHz or 6,140kHz via Japan (in Japanese on Mon, Tue, Thu, Fri; Chinese on Wed; English on Sat; Korean on Sun)
2030 to 2100 (0530 to 0600 local) on 5,975kHz or 5,985kHz or 6,140kHz via Japan (in Korean on Mon, Wed; Japanese on Tue, Thu, Fri, Sun; English on Sat)
Furusato no kaze (ふるさとの風)
1330 to 1357 (2230 to 2257 local) on 9950kHz via Taiwan (in Japanese)
1430 to 1500 (2330 to 0000 local) on 9960kHz via Palau (in Japanese)
1600 to 1630 (0100 to 0130 local) on 9780kHz via Taiwan (in Japanese)
Nippon no kaze (日本の風)
1430 to 1500 (2330 to 0000 local) on 9960kHz via Palau
1500 to 1530 (0000 to 0030 local) on 9975kHz via Palau
1530 to 1600 (0030 to 0100 local) on 9965kHz via Palau
== Religious ==
1300 to 1400 (2200 to 2300 local) on 11,860kHz (Monday to Saturday)
1300 to 1430 (2200 to 2330 local) on 11,860kHz (Sunday)
1620 to 1635 (0120 to 0135 local) on 1,188kHz (Friday and Saturday)
1900 to 1930 (0400 to 0430 local) on 1,566kHz (Tuesday, Thursday)
1900 to 2000 (0400 to 0500 local) on 1,566kHz (Sunday)
1900 to 2000 (0400 to 0500 local) on 7,375kHz (Monday to Saturday)
1900 to 2030 (0400 to 0530 local) on 7,375kHz (Sunday)
1600 to 1730 (0100 to 0230 local) on 7,515kHz
The chair of the United Nations Commission of Inquiry on the situation of human rights in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea called this week on the country to allow them access to areas of North Korea that are said to contain prison camps.
Speaking at a news conference in New York on Tuesday, Michael Kirby said, “We have asked for the permission to go and visit North Korea, to engage with its people. We have pointed out that the best way to respond to the contention that the testimony which has been recorded in our public hearings is false, would be to open those parts of North Korea which are said to contain the detention and prison camps of which the witnesses before us gave copious evidence.”
Kirby was speaking after the commission wrapped up a series of multi-city hearings on human rights in the DPRK.
“Some of the testimony has been extremely distressing; testimony concerning the detention facilities, the lack of proper food in them, the fact that there are people in the detention facilities who have committed no offense, no crime, according to their testimony, but who are simply there because of the notion of intergenerational guilt, which is a feature of the system in North Korea,” he said.
Here’s some video of the news conference:
Regular visitors to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) might have noticed something different about the site in the last few days. The North Korean state-run news agency has begun publishing higher resolution photographers alongside articles.
The change was first noted by Frank Feinstein, the New Zealand-based researcher who runs the KCNA Watch service.
The most recent images offered by KCNA are more than double the resolution of previous images at 900 pixels by 620 pixels. In the past they were a relatively low 400 pixels by 276 pixels.
The higher quality images are part of the general increase in the amount of photo and video material being produced by KCNA, said Feinstein.
“As they increase image and video production, they don’t just add these to an ever increasing spread of articles. They specifically target articles which they consider have propaganda value, and increase the number of images/videos associated with that article.”
He pointed to one recent article, on the completion of a water park in Pyongyang, that carried 32 associated images — a record according to his monitoring.
It all adds up to good news for North Korea watchers who don’t have access to the original KCNA feed or photos redistributed via western news agencies.