Posts tagged South Korea
Four of South Korea’s leading defector-run media outlets have begun jointly lobbying the government on issues of mutual interest and their first target appears to be a mediumwave (AM) radio frequency.
Radio Free Chosun, Open Radio for North Korea, Daily NK and OTV have come together under the “Unification Media Group,” (국민통일방송) Daily NK reported.
The four have a joint goal of reaching a million North Korean adults within the next five years. Under current conditions, that’s all but impossible via TV or the Internet but could be done by radio.
The games were offered through South Korean sites between May 19 and September 16 this year, the National Intelligence Service said in a report to parliament.
The apps have since been removed and the actual number of phones infected is unclear.
As a computer-based war-game, the Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise that begins this week in South Korea requires lots and lots of computers.
In pictures released Thursday by the U.S. Department of Defense, some of those computers and the complexity of the set-up can be seen. The images and a video show the inside of the Joint Operations Center for the exercise. It was built by the U.S. I Corps and Third Army of South Korea.
North Korea strongly denied again on Sunday having anything to do with unmanned aircraft discovered crashed on the South Korean side of the inter-Korean border.
Last week, the South Korean government said it had concluded an investigation into the incident and concluded the three drones were launched from North Korea.
Among its evidence, Seoul said the onboard computer contained a program to fly from North Korea over the south and then back again.
North Korea’s National Defence Commission, through an article sent on the official Korean Central News Agency, called the investigation a “farce” and said it had been implicated to “do harm to its fellow countrymen in the north and invent a pretext for escalating the confrontation in a back room.”
The app, iJuche, was developed and published in late 2013 and was highlighted on NorthKoreaTech earlier this week. That publicity was apparently enough to get it blocked.
“I just got a call from a person at Apple informing me that iJuche has been found to be in violation of South Korea’s “National Security Law” and has been removed from the South Korean App Store,” said Peter Curtis, the developer of the app.
Users in South Korea that have already downloaded a copy of iJuche, or those with App Store subscriptions in other countries, should still be able to access news through the app, but new users won’t find it available for download in the Korean App Store.
South Korea’s National Security Law is a decades-old law that bans anti-state acts that endanger national security. In recent years, this has been used to ban the redistribution of North Korean propaganda on the Internet.
That means many websites from North Korean and those sympathetic to the country are blocked from local Internet users. It’s also been used to prosecute local Internet users who re-distribute North Korean content, sometimes by simply posting it on a website.
The law has many critics who maintain it restricts freedom of speech and doesn’t belong in a modern, developed society like the South Korea of today.
To-date, most of the sites and services blocked under the law have been those in Korean, although late last year a portion of the NK News website was also cut off from South Korean Internet connections.
KCNA Watch, a service developed by New Zealand-based Frank Feinstein, collates the daily output of KCNA from its website and makes it easy to navigate and search. It’s often easier to find articles on KCNA Watch than through the official KCNA website, and Feinstein’s site maintains the original versions of stories.
The importance of that feature was highlighted last month when KCNA deleted hundreds of articles mentioning Jang Song Thaek, the purged uncle of Kim Jong Un. The articles remain available through KCNA Watch.
A South Korean businessman has been arrested by local authorities on suspicion of passing classified information and video and audio system technology to North Korea, Yonhap reported on Saturday.
The report said the suspect, identified only as a 54-year-old man called “Kang,” worked with agents of North Korea’s Reconnaissance General Bureau to pass the information. He regularly traveled to China and made contact with the agents directly and through email.
Few other pieces of information were available.
The case could be interesting because the Reconnaissance General Bureau is the Korean People’s Army unit responsible for spying activities, including infiltration of South Korea and electronic surveillance.
I mentioned it in February last year when writing about a large satellite monitoring station on the outskirts of Pyongyang. The monitoring station is located close to the bureau’s headquarters.
As noted in that article, the Reconnaissance General Bureau was named in U.S. Executive Order 13382 that set out trade sanctions. Here’s what the U.S. government said about it in August 2010:
The Reconnaissance General Bureau is North Korea’s premiere intelligence organization, created in early 2009 by the merger of existing intelligence organizations from the Korean Workers’ Party, the Operations Department and Office 35, and the Reconnaissance Bureau of the Korean People’s Army. RGB trades in conventional arms and controls the North Korean conventional arms firm Green Pine Associated Corporation (Green Pine), which was also identified for sanctions by the President today for exporting arms or related materiel from North Korea.
Its headquarters were located after TV footage was broadcast of a visit there by Kim Jong Il in early 2010.
The unit was reorganized in 2009/10 and 38 North published an extensive analysis:
Recent changes during 2009-2010—the most dramatic reorganization in years— seem to have been implemented to unify all the intelligence and internal security services directly under the National Defense Commission (NDC) and to secure the position of Kim Chong-il’s son, Kim Chong-un, as his successor. — 38 North Special Report
Despite living in one of the most wired societies in the world, South Korean Internet users enjoy a “partly free” Internet due to government censorship of content, according to the results of a global survey on Internet freedom.
Censorship of content, which includes many websites that carry North Korean content, has shot up in recent years.
The government’s own figures show 25,706 items were blocked in the first six months of 2013, compared to 39,296 sites in all of 2012. Five years ago in 2008, just 4,731 sites were blocked.
The censorship led Freedom House to score the country 32 points in its annual Internet freedom ranking. The score runs from 0 to 100 with a lower number signifying more freedom. South Korea’s score is a rise of 2 points from its score of 34 points last year.
The nation comes in position 20 on the ranking of 60 countries, equal with Brazil. North Korea is not included in the survey.
The score partly reflected the South Korean government’s attitude towards North Korean content.
Users are blocked from viewing websites based in North Korea or many of the pro-regime sites based in other countries. Censorship is particularly strong of Korean-language content and mirrors the government jamming or North Korean radio signals, much of which takes place under the name of the National Security Law.
Attempts to access banned content are re-directed to a “warning” page.
The report includes an outline of the online review and censorship process carried out by the Korea Communications and Standards Commission.
Meetings are held every two weeks at which commissioners discuss flagged cases, which include content found by monitors and submitted by Internet users. The content runs the gamut from pornography to political discussion and the commissioners make recommendations on what should be deleted or blocked. Compliance is almost universal, even though the recommendations are not legally binding.
South Korean defense officials plan to soon launch a high-tech blimp just south of the disputed maritime border with North Korea in November to get a better look into the neighboring country, according to a report in Stars and Stripes.
The airship will hover over the island group that includes Yeonpyong, which is the island that was shelled by North Korean forces in 2010 resulting in the deaths of four South Koreans.
The newspaper quoted a spokesman for the South Korean Defense Acquisition Program Administration (DAPA) as saying the $22 million blimp would provide surveillance of areas that are at present outside the coverage of the South Korean military’s monitoring network.
The U.S. military has been using airships in the Middle East since 2010, where they monitor the areas around military bases in Afghanistan.
The U.S. craft — officially called the Precision Threat Detection System — are equipped with a camera that can provide a 360 degree, all-weather view of the surrounding area in both daytime and nighttime.
Lockheed Martin makes the system used in Afghanistan but the South Korean system is of domestic origin. A photo released by the South Korean military shows the design of the craft is slightly different from that employed in Afghanistan.
It was due to already be in the air, but problems with a data transmission system have delayed its deployment, Yonhap News reported in early September. Now, the DAPA official told Stars and Stripes it could be in the air as early as November.
The arrival of a blimp at the border will likely spark an attack from North Korea, either in words or more forcefully with weapons. The country typically bristles at the arrival of any new military technology on the Korean peninsula and especially when it comes near to the border.
Baek Youn Hyeong, the South Korean military spokesman quoted by Stars and Stripes, told the newspaper, “If they take military action by attacking it … it would be an act of provocation, and we would have to take appropriate action in response.”