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]

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.[3] 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.[4] Kim Jong-il himself was said to have loved "surfing the net".[5]

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.[6] 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.[7]

Permission to access the Internet remains very tightly restricted, however as of 2011, there has been a growing IT industry and a gradual access of the Internet within North Korea.[8][9]

From February 2013, foreigners can access the internet using the 3G phone network.[10][11]

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.[12] 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".[13]

Uriminzokkiri also fields a YouTube channel, uriminzokkiri 님의 채널.[14]

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.[5]

In late 2007, North Korea launched its first online shop, Chollima, in a joint venture with an unnamed Chinese company.[15]

Air Koryo has an official Facebook page. It is noted for its rather friendlier non-political approach compared to other North Korean websites.[16]

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.[17]

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.[18]

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[19] 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",[20] 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.[21]

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.[22]

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.[23]

IPv4 ranges[edit]

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

  • – [24]

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.[25]

North Korea's telecommunications ministry is also the registered user of 254 China Unicom addresses. This pre-dates the activation of North Korea's own block, but as of 2014 it is still current:

  • – [24]

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. ^ Whois lookup for IP netblock
  4. ^ 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. 
  5. ^ a b Andrei Lankov (11-12-2007). "Surfing Net in North Korea". Korea Times.  Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. ^ The new face of KCNA « North Korea Tech. (2010-10-09). Retrieved on 2013-03-20.
  7. ^ North Korea opens up Internet for national anniversary. Computerworld (2010-10-09). Retrieved on 2013-03-20.
  8. ^ Lee, Jean H. (2011-07-25). "North Korea's 'Digital Revolution' Under Way". Associated Press. Retrieved 2011-08-08. 
  9. ^ Cho (조), Min-jeong (민정) (2011-04-30). "北 웹사이트 접속 늘어…윈도XP 사용". Yonhap News (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-12-08. 
  10. ^ "North Korea to offer mobile internet access". BBC. 22 February 2013. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  11. ^ Caitlin Dewey (26 February 2013). "Instagrams from within North Korea lift the veil, but only slightly". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 July 2014. 
  12. ^ "North Korea's baby steps for the Internet". (United Press International). 2005-08-30. 
  13. ^ Yoon, Jong-Koo (2004-09-08). "Police Announce 43 Active Pro-North Korean Websites". The Dong-a Ilbo. 
  14. ^ uriminzokkiri 님의 채널. (2010-07-14). Retrieved on 2013-03-20.
  15. ^ Kelly Olson, "Elusive Web Site Offers N. Korean Goods",, February 4, 2008. Retrieved on April 27, 2008.
  16. ^ Cho (조), Min-jeong (민정) (2011-08-28). "`쌍방향 소통' 北고려항공 페이스북 각광". Yonhap News (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-09-10. 
  17. ^ Rodriguez, Salvador (March 6, 2013). "Pirate Bay North Korea move was a hoax", The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved September 13, 2014.
  18. ^ 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. 
  19. ^ 《우리민족끼리》홈페지[dead link]
  20. ^ "North Korea creates Twitter and YouTube presence". BBC News. 2010-08-18. 
  21. ^ 《우리민족끼리》홈페지[dead link]
  22. ^ Bae (배), Hye-rim (혜림) (2011-05-06). "北해커부대, '게임머니'S/W 팔아 외화벌이". Money Today (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-05-06. 
  23. ^ Lee (이), Dae-hui (대희) (2011-08-05). "北 '엘리트 해커' 사이버 외화벌이". Nocut News (in Korean). Retrieved 2011-08-21. 
  24. ^ a b APNIC Database
  25. ^ One IP address for all of PUST « North Korea Tech. (2012-08-20). Retrieved on 2013-03-20.

External links[edit]