North Korea is the second most-censored nation on earth, according to a new ranking by the Committee to Protect Journalists.
For anyone that knows North Korea or has been paying attention to press freedom studies and rankings, the news hardly comes as a surprise.
The government has complete control over the news media, which is limited to a handful of outlets that all report and reflect the official viewpoint. More >
North Korea has launched an e-commerce site on its nationwide intranet, KCNA said Wednesday.
The site, which is accessible via PC and mobile telephone, is called 옥류 (Okryu) and includes consumer goods, medicine and food items. Users can search for goods they want to buy and also schedule delivery, said KCNA.
Payments for the goods can be made with an e-money card. More >
In late December, just a few days after the U.S. government accused North Korea of being behind the hack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, North Korea’s sole connection to the Internet was disrupted for nine and a half hours.
At the time, there was speculation that the American government might be behind the action, especially as President Barack Obama had promised retaliation, but it was equally possible that a third-party group or technical problems were to blame. After all, it was far from the first time that North Korea’s Internet connection has gone down. More >
North Korea’s Internet connection is experiencing problems again, leading to difficulties in connecting to North Korean websites from outside of the country, according to data from Dyn Research. Users inside North Korea are also presumably having trouble reaching sites in the rest of the world.
The problems began just after 3am UTC and continued for several hours, as can be seen in this graph below. More >
A bizarre attempt to raise $10 million to fund a coup in North Korea appears to have ended shortly after it began.
A fund-raising campaign asking for money to “Help Bring Freedom to North Korea” was posted on Indiegogo on January 18, but several days later was deleted from the site.
“We are Freedom Now, a covert multi-national group with the sole mission of bringing freedom and democracy to the people of North Korea,” read the introduction to the campaign when it was launched. Later, the description was edited to add another mission: “putting a stop to the tyrannical regime of Kim Jong-Un.”
Some of the money was said to be destined to build a radio network that would allow dissidents inside the country to communicate securely.
It’s a laudable goal. After all, similar networks have been tried in other countries, such as some in the Middle East. But those countries have comparative freedom compared to North Korea, where the government manages to maintain tight control on its people and dissent is not tolerated, so establishing such a network faces considerable hurdles.
The campaign also planned to send in small radios — something that existing South Korean activist groups are already doing. A handful of shortwave radio stations target North Korea with news and information and South Korean domestic stations can also be heard at nighttime — if listeners can get around North Korean jamming of the signals.
“We are confident that an effective communication network is not only possible, but inevitable with the necessary resources. The completion of this communication network will lead to opportunities for a coup and then to establish a democracy,” the campaign read.
The person or people behind the campaign appeared to be reluctant to tie themselves too closely with taking an active role in any coup in North Korea, in one paragraph writing “Freedom Now in no way acts out or will act out any illegal activity mentioned,” but its goal of a coup was obvious.
But with such goals, such a public funding campaign and a plan that apparently revolved solely around supplying radios to North Koreans and letting them do the rest themselves, it’s hard to take the campaign seriously.
The identity of the person or people behind the campaign was not known and it’s unclear if it was even serious. The campaign was staged so that the backer would receive the money whether it reached the $10 million target or not. When it disappeared from the site around $100 had been pledged.
The campaign was started in the names of “Andrew Fox” and “Dong Kyung-sun.” Both were listed as “verified” users, but that only proves the email addresses they used were legitimate. The profile page for Fox has since been deleted, but the profile for Dong remains.
Attempts to reach the campaign creator through an email address listed on Indiegogo were unsuccessful.
So, perhaps it was no surprise that within a few days, this is the message that greeted would-be funders:
Greater access to information, particularly the Internet, will likely prove to be what ends the rule of North Korea’s regime, President Obama said last week in an interview.
Speaking to YouTube creators during an event at The White House, Obama said military options against the country were limited, in part because of the potential damage that South Korea could suffer in a conflict.
“Our capacity to affect change in North Korea is somewhat limited because you got a million person army and they have nuclear technologies and missiles,” said Obama. “That’s all they spend their money on essentially, is on their war machine, and we’ve got an ally of South Korea right next door that if there were a war a would be severely affected.”
The ability of the U.S. to affect change through sanctions is also limited, he said.
Here’s what he said:
Hackers have hit a Facebook page for North Korean airline Air Koryo replacing it with messages in support of Islamic State militants and against North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The page shot to fame earlier in the year when it began replying to user comments and questions about trips to North Korea. It claimed to be the airline’s official page, but appeared to be run by an Air Koryo agent in Russia.
The hack came a day after a similar attack on the Facebook and Twitter pages of U.S. Central Command. Hackers typically gain access to Facebook accounts by tricking users into giving away their passwords or by gaining access to their email accounts and then sending password reset messages.
Both Facebook and Twitter allows users to set a second, one-time use password to guard against such attacks.
The messages on the page included one that threatened North Korea and China:
And one that targeted Kim Jong Un:
There was also a message in support of ISIS and the so-called “cyber caliphate.”
Later in the day, Facebook blocked access:
Will Scott, the American that spent a semester teaching computer science at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, spoke about his experiences this week at the Chaos Computer Club’s annual conference in Hamburg.
Scott, who has just returned from the second trip to PUST, went into detail on the IT environment at the university, availability of the Internet, access to computers and cell phones, and his observations on Red Star Desktop 3.0, the latest version of North Korea’s home-grown Linux operating system.
He introduced the world to the OS in early 2014 when he began publishing details in early 2014. During the Q&A portion of his talk, Scott was asked to upload the software to the Internet. He had declined to do so, but said he had been contacted by someone who intended to put a copy online. Hours before his talk, and apparently unknown to him, a copy was uploaded to Bit Torrent.
Here’s the entire talk: