Internet in North Korea – what does it look like?

North Korea is a country that causes a lot of emotions in the West. It is a unique country with a unique system that has not changed much over the years. Totalitarianism is not conducive to freedom of speech – the Internet is its symbol. What does this conflict look like in practice?

Internal and external networks in North Korea

North Korea is opening to the world at the speed of a snail. The country’s governor, Kim Jong Un, grew up in the west and knows how our reality works. The opening of Korea, although limited, is dominated by tourism, for example, which imposes certain requirements for network access or security. Therefore, there are two networks in Korea – one for foreigners, one for tourists and one for domestic citizens. Unlike its poses, the external network is not subject to radical restrictions, as it seems.

The interior is quite unusual and worth a closer look. It is noteworthy that technology, which for many years has favored freedom of speech and improved communication around the world, has found its place in a country where there is severe censorship and extensive campaigns against Western civilization. However, there is an attractive difference in socialist and communist societies. Looking into the depths of Korean solutions shows a completely distorted view of our values. It teaches us what the world can be like and the tragedy of people trapped in a completely isolated world.

Internet access is good in North Korea – KoryoGroup’s position

KoryoGroup is an independent company specializing in travel to North Korea. Their headquarters are in Beijing. You can find a lot of information with travel tips on the carrier’s website. There is also an Internet access section. According to the North Korean KoryoGroup, we can use the Internet freely, only some sites are blocked. These are mainly social media (Facebook, Instagram), porn sites, sites from South Korea and sites labeled against the DPRK, although this is what we are talking about.

These are probably the parties that openly criticize the regime, because the DPRK is just a shortening of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The external network is also available via Wi-Fi at important tourist attractions – Pothonggang Hotel, Yanggakdo Hotel Casino and the airport. The price of a North Korean SIM card is 250 euros (the card itself, with a data package, is prepaid in minutes) and is difficult to obtain. The card provider is Koryolink.

Domestic North Korean Network – Kwangmyong

In North Korea, the internal network was built in the spirit of the regime. There are quite a limited number of websites on the Internet (it is difficult to find relevant information on this topic, it probably varies from a few thousand to several thousand). This is probably due to the limited possibilities of censorship – after all, each sentence must be checked for compliance with the country’s policy. Kwangmyong is a network we can’t connect to from a Western computer.

North Korean browser – not Safari, not Google Chrome, but what?

For obvious reasons, the services available in the West are not used in North Korea. Of course, we are not talking about an external network, but an internal network. Therefore, the regime has developed its own operating system and web browser. The system is called Red Star OS (붉은 별). It is based on the Linux kernel, but is similar to MacOS. In this operating system we find a web browser – Naenara (it means “my country”). It is based on Mozilla Firefox (not surprisingly, there were many Firefox modes for different applications, such as the Tor network). The network uses a .kp domain.

Preview of Korea – Naenar’s homepage

If we decide to look at the Korean network, it is worth using Naenara.com.kp. This includes basic information about North Korea (in a highly distorted, censored form), news, and travel information. Such an experience shows quite well what the socialist Internet looks like – modern design and no functionality. The technology used on the website is similar to that of 2005 or earlier.

Sources: KoryoGroup, Naenara.com.kp

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