Internet in North Korea

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Internet access is available in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea), but only permitted with special authorization and primarily used for government purposes. The country has some broadband infrastructure, including fiber optic links between major institutions producing nationwide speeds of up to 2.5 Gbit/s.[1] However, online services for most individuals and institutions are provided through a free domestic-only network known as Kwangmyong, with access to the global Internet limited to a much smaller group.[2] As of late 2014 there are 1,024 IP addresses in the country.[3]

Service providers and access[edit]

There is one ISP providing Internet connection in North Korea: Star Joint Venture Co., a joint venture between the North Korean government's Post and Telecommunications Corporation and Thailand-based Loxley Pacific. Star JV took control of North Korea's Internet address allocation on December 21, 2009.[4] Prior to Star JV, Internet access was available only via a satellite link to Germany, or for some government uses through direct connections with China Netcom.[5] Kim Jong-il was said to have loved "surfing the net".[6]

In October 2010, the website of the Korean Central News Agency went live from a web server hosted in North Korea and accessible globally on a North Korean IP address, marking the country's first known direct connection to the Internet.[7] Around the same time, on 9 October, journalists visiting Pyongyang for the Workers' Party's 65th anniversary celebrations were given access to a press room with full Internet connectivity.[8]

Permission to access the Internet remains very tightly restricted; however, as of 2011, there has been a growing IT industry and gradually increasing access of the Internet within North Korea.[9][10]

Since February 2013, foreigners can access the internet using the 3G phone network operated by Koryolink.[11][12] In March 2013, North Korea experienced Internet link failure for one and a half days.[13]

As of December 2014, there are officially 1,024 internet protocol addresses in North Korea, though The New York Times journalists David E. Sanger and Nicole Perlroth believe that the actual number may be higher.[3] According to Ofer Gayer, a security researcher of Incapsula, the country's total web traffic footprint has been less than the Falkland Islands.[13][14] In December 2014, North Korea was suspected of a hack attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment. From December 19–21, North Korea experienced technical difficulties with Internet access. On December 22, North Korea suffered a complete Internet link failure, resulting in loss of Internet access from outside the country.[3] On December 23, nine hours after the outage, the country regained Internet access,[15] albeit "partial and potentially unstable with other websites still inaccessible."[16] On December 22–24, North Korea experienced seven more Internet outages, including two on December 23.[13] On December 27, the country experienced an outage on Internet (the third time of the year) and a mobile network.[17]

Many citizens of North Korea may be oblivious to the existence of the internet.[18]

Since Apple Inc., Sony, and Microsoft are not allowed to distribute their products to North Korea, third-party companies have bought their products and been selling them as their own to customers. Very little is known about the electronics industry in North Korea due to the government's isolation policies.[18]

CNN wrote in December 2014, "Nearly all of the country's Internet traffic is routed through China."[18][needs copy edit]

North Korean websites[edit]

There are about 30 websites, such as North Korean June 15th Editions (Chosongul: 조선륙일오편집사) and,[dead link] run by the DPRK government.[19] South Korean police have identified 43 pro-North Korean websites that have foreign-based servers. The police report that these websites encourage hostile attitudes towards South Korea and western countries, and portray the DPRK in a positive light. According to The Dong-a Ilbo, foreign-based websites include the following: Joseon Tongsin (Korean Central News Agency) and Guk-jeonseon (meaning "channels between nations") in Japan, Unification Arirang (Arirang is a traditional Korean folk song) in China, Minjok Tongsin ("Minjok" means "nation, ethnic group") in the U.S., and twelve new pro-North Korean websites have launched, including the "Korea Network".[20]

Uriminzokkiri also fields a YouTube channel, uriminzokkiri 님의 채널.[21]

In September 2007 the .kp top-level domain was created. It contains websites connected to the North Korean government.


In North Korea, the first e-mail provider was Sili Bank which maintains dedicated servers in Pyongyang. The website for North Korea's Sili Bank homepage is while China's is

Commercial websites[edit]

In 2002, North Koreans, in collaboration with a South Korean company, started a gambling site targeting South Korean customers (online gambling being illegal in South Korea), but the site has since been closed down.[6]

In late 2007, North Korea launched its first online shop, Chollima, in a joint venture with an unnamed Chinese company.[22]

In 2013, The Pirate Bay claimed to be operating out of North Korea after legal challenges forced it out of Sweden. The move was later revealed to be a hoax.[23]

South Korean Internet regulations[edit]

South Korean Internet users must comply with Trade Laws with North Korea (Article 9 Section 2) in which one needs to have the Ministry of Unification's approval to contact North Koreans through their websites.[24]

Government use of the Internet[edit]

In August 2010, BBC News reported that an agency contracted by the North Korean government has fielded an official DPRK YouTube channel, uriminzokkiri 님의 채널, Facebook[25] and Twitter accounts, named 'uriminzok' ('our people') or 'uriminzokkiri'. The advertised Facebook page is currently a dead link. Both the Twitter and YouTube accounts are solely in Korean. The BBC reported, "In a recent Twitter post, the North Koreans said the current administration in South Korea was 'a prostitute' of the US",[26] though this wording may be a poor translation into English. Among some of the content on the official website is an image of a US soldier being followed by two missiles, along with various other cartoons, pictures and text, with largely anti-US and anti-South Korean sentiment.[27]

A group of North Korean hackers based in Shenyang, China, developed and sold auto-programs for an online game Lineage and a South Korea citizen was arrested in May 2011 for purchasing it.[28]

South Korean No Cut News has reported that the North Korean government trains computer hackers in Kim Chaek University of Technology and Kim Il-sung University to earn money overseas.[29]

According to The Dong-a Ilbo journalist, also a North Korean defector, as of April 2014, the government's intranet Kwangmyung has been used to limit the general public's global Internet usage, especially in hotels. Although available in most campuses, government has "strictly monitored the Internet usage."[30] Nevertheless, the ones who can access to Internet without limits are claimed to have been high-ranking officials, members of non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and government ambassadors.[30][18]

IPv4 ranges[edit]

North Korea has one known block of 1,024 IPv4 addresses:

  • – [31]

Despite North Korea's limited Internet access, the small pool of IP addresses has led to very conservative allocations. The Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, for example, has just one IP address on the global Internet.[32]

North Korea's telecommunications ministry is also the registered user of 256 China Unicom addresses. This pre-dates the activation of North Korea's own block, but as of 2014 it is still current:

  • – [31]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ North Korea (Korea, Democratic People's Republic of) – Asia Internet History Projects. (2012-09-26). Retrieved on 2013-03-20.
  2. ^ North Korea moves quietly onto the Internet. Computerworld (2010-06-10). Retrieved on 2013-03-20.
  3. ^ a b c Sanger, David E.; Perlroth, Nicole (December 22, 2014). "North Korea Loses Its Link to the Internet." The New York Times. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
  4. ^ Whois lookup for IP netblock
  5. ^ Zeller Jr, Tom (October 23, 2006). "LINK BY LINK; The Internet Black Hole That Is North Korea". The New York Times. Retrieved May 5, 2010. 
  6. ^ a b Andrei Lankov (11-12-2007). "Surfing Net in North Korea". Korea Times.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  7. ^ The new face of KCNA « North Korea Tech. (2010-10-09). Retrieved on 2013-03-20.
  8. ^ North Korea opens up Internet for national anniversary. Computerworld (2010-10-09). Retrieved on 2013-03-20.
  9. ^ Lee, Jean H. (2011-07-25). "North Korea's 'Digital Revolution' Under Way". Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  10. ^ Cho (조), Min-jeong (민정) (2011-04-30). "北 웹사이트 접속 늘어…윈도XP 사용". Yonhap News (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-12-08. 
  11. ^ "North Korea to offer mobile internet access". BBC. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  12. ^ Caitlin Dewey (26 February 2013). "Instagrams from within North Korea lift the veil, but only slightly". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  13. ^ a b c Satter, Raphael; Sullivan, Eileen (December 25, 2014). "North Korea outage a case study in online uncertainties." The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved December 25, 2014.
  14. ^ Satter, Raphael (December 25, 2014). "NKorea-Mystery Outage Story." ABC News (Associated Press). Retrieved December 28, 2014.
  15. ^ Ford, Dana (December 23, 2014). "North Korea's Internet back up after disruption." CNN. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
  16. ^ "North Korea partially back online after internet collapse." BBC. 23 December 2014. Retrieved 23 December 2014.
  17. ^ Slattery, Denis (December 28, 2014). "North Korea suffers nationwide Internet, 3G mobile network blackout." New York Daily News. Retrieved December 28, 2014.
  18. ^ a b c d Pagliery, Jose (December 22, 2014). "A peek into North Korea's Internet". CNN. Retrieved December 23, 2014.
  19. ^ "North Korea's baby steps for the Internet". (United Press International). 2005-08-30. 
  20. ^ Yoon, Jong-Koo (2004-09-08). "Police Announce 43 Active Pro-North Korean Websites". The Dong-a Ilbo. 
  21. ^ uriminzokkiri 님의 채널. (2010-07-14). Retrieved on 2013-03-20.
  22. ^ Kelly Olson, "Elusive Web Site Offers N. Korean Goods",, February 4, 2008. Retrieved on April 27, 2008.
  23. ^ Rodriguez, Salvador (March 6, 2013). "Pirate Bay North Korea move was a hoax", The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  24. ^ Choe, Cheol (2010-04-08). "北 인터넷사이트에 '댓글' 달면 어떻게 될까 (What Happens If You Post 'Reply' On North Korean Website)". No Cut News (in Korean). Retrieved 2010-04-14. 
  25. ^ 《우리민족끼리》홈페지[dead link]
  26. ^ "North Korea creates Twitter and YouTube presence". BBC News. 2010-08-18. 
  27. ^ 《우리민족끼리》홈페지[dead link]
  28. ^ Bae (배), Hye-rim (혜림) (2011-05-06). "北해커부대, '게임머니'S/W 팔아 외화벌이". Money Today (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-05-06. 
  29. ^ Lee (이), Dae-hui (대희) (2011-08-05). 北 '엘리트 해커' 사이버 외화벌이. Nocut News (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  30. ^ a b Tae-jun Kang (August 14, 2014). "Wi-Fi Access Sparks Housing Boom in Pyongyang." The Diplomat
  31. ^ a b APNIC Database
  32. ^ One IP address for all of PUST « North Korea Tech. (2012-08-20). Retrieved on 2013-03-20.

External links[edit]