Koryo Tours hits out at South Korean web block

Koryo Tours, the Beijing-based travel agent that specializes in tours of North Korea, says South Korea has “over reacted” in blocking its website since the beginning of this year.

The websites koryotours.com and koryogroup.com have been unavailable from South Korean Internet connections since January 26 this year, apparently a casualty of South Korea’s campaign to stop its citizens from seeing North Korean content.

“This came as a complete surprise – we had not been notified in advance or asked to explain particular content, nor notified afterwards and given an explanation,” the company said in a statement.

Koryo Tours said it arranged a meeting with the Korean Communications Standards Commission, the organization responsible for South Korea’s Internet filter, through the British Embassy in Seoul “and were advised to change certain content of the site.”

“The website had been blocked on the grounds that the content of our website violated the National Security Act and other legislation prohibiting “propagandist” information about the DPRK, and prohibiting South Korean citizens from contacting or visiting the DPRK without permission. This was at the request of the South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS),” the company’s statement said.

Koryo Tours said it changed some pictures and removed links to North Korean websites but drew the line at other changes.

“We are not prepared to delete large amounts of factual content,” it said.

“We believe that the blocking of our website is disproportionate and unjust. There is plenty of information about all aspects of life in the DPRK, including propaganda posters, photographs of revolutionary statues and cultural performances, readily available on the internet. In addition, links to official DPRK websites can be found on many publicly accessible websites, including those of the BBC and British Foreign Office.”

The website remains blocked as of time of writing.

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