Kwangmyong (network)

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A computer room equipped with access to Kwangmyong at the Grand People's Study House in Pyongyang
Korean name
Revised Romanizationgwangmyeong

Kwangmyong (literally “Bright Light”)[1][2] is a North Korean "walled garden" national intranet service[3] opened in 2000.

The network uses domain names under the .kp top level domain that are not accessible from the global Internet.[4] As of 2016 the network uses IPv4 addresses reserved for private networks in the range.[4] North Koreans often find it more convenient to access sites by their IP address rather than by URL using Latin characters.[4] Like the global Internet, the network hosts content accessible with web browsers, and provides an internal web search engine. It also provides email services and news groups.[5]

Only foreigners and a small number of government officials/scholars/elites are allowed to use the global Internet in North Korea, making Kwangmyong the only computer network available to most North Korean citizens. It is a free service for public use.


The Kwangmyong network is composed of multiple websites and services, including but not limited to: political, economic, scientific and cultural information and fields of knowledge among other topics; an emailing service; a social networking service;[6] domestic news services; scientific research websites of academic and scholarly works devoted to the network through web-based academic exchanges and information sharing such as the Academy of Sciences for Science and Technology (Korean과학기술전시관; Hanja科學技術展示館)[7] and the Academy of Sciences for Medical Science (Korean의학과학정보센터);[8] websites of various North Korean government agencies including provincial government, cultural institutions, universities and some of the major industrial and commercial organizations; censored websites from the Internet (mostly related to science) that are downloaded, undergo review and censorship, and publication on the Kwangmyong;[5] an electronic library;[9] and a few e-commerce websites by commercial organizations.[10] As of 2014, Kwangmyong is estimated to have between 1,000 and 5,500 websites.[11]

In 2016 an IPTV service called Manbang started utilising Kwangmyong, accessed by a wi-fi enabled set-top box.[12]

Network access[edit]

Kwangmyong is only accessible from within North Korea. Access is available within major cities and counties, as well as universities and major industrial and commercial organizations. There are several internet cafés in Pyongyang.[13][14]

Kwangmyong has 24-hour unlimited access by dial-up telephone line. As of 2013, a number of Android-based tablet computer products, including the Samjiyon tablet computer, can be purchased in North Korea that give access to Kwangmyong.[15]

In 2018, North Korea unveiled a new wi-fi service called Mirae ("Future"), which allowed mobile devices to access the intranet network in Pyongyang.[16]


The network uses Korean as the main interface language, and is maintained by more than 2,000 language experts, according to official information, in expanding services in Russian, Chinese, English, French, German and Japanese, in which there is a real-time, online translation service for the seven languages, with a database containing over 2,000,000 words, to assist users who may not be familiar with foreign languages.

Information control[edit]

Kwangmyong is designed to be used only within North Korea, and often referred as an "intranet". Kwangmyong prevents domestic users within North Korea from accessing foreign content or information and prevents the leakages of classified data. It functions as a form of information censorship, preventing undesirable information from being accessed. Thus, sensitive topics and information are unlikely to surface on Kwangmyong due to the absence of a link to the outside world and the censorship that occurs. Kwangmyong is maintained by government-related entities. However, large amounts of material from the Internet ends up on Kwangmyong, following processing.

Foreigners in North Korea are generally not allowed to access Kwangmyong but may have access to the global Internet. For security reasons networks with Internet and intranet access are air gapped so that computers with Internet access are not housed in the same location as computers with Kwangmyong access.[5]

Given that there is no direct connection to the outside Internet, unwanted information cannot enter the network. Information is filtered and processed by government agencies before being hosted on the North Korean Intranet.[citation needed] Myanmar and Cuba also use a similar network system that is separated from the rest of the Internet,[17] and Iran has been reported as having future plans to implement such a network, though it is claimed that it would work alongside the Internet and would not replace it.[17]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Warf, Barney (22 November 2016). e-Government in Asia:Origins, Politics, Impacts, Geographies. Chandos Publishing. ISBN 9780081008997 – via Google Books.
  2. ^ Idrc (7 January 2008). Digital Review of Asia Pacific 2007/2008. IDRC. ISBN 9780761936749 – via Google Books.
  3. ^ Andrew Jacobs (January 10, 2013). "Google Chief Urges North Korea to Embrace Web". The New York Times. Retrieved January 10, 2013.
  4. ^ a b c Mäkeläinen, Mika (14 May 2016). "Yle Pohjois-Koreassa: Kurkista suljetun maan omaan tietoverkkoon" [Yle in North Korea: Peek into the Network of the Closed Country] (in Finnish). Yle]. Retrieved 15 May 2016.
  5. ^ a b c Will Scott (29 December 2014). "Computer Science in the DPRK [31c3]". Chaos Computer Club. Retrieved 26 June 2017.
  6. ^ Caitlin Dewey (13 March 2013). "A rare glimpse of North Korea's version of Facebook". Washington Post. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  7. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2013-08-15. Retrieved 2016-05-27.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  8. ^[permanent dead link]
  9. ^[permanent dead link]
  10. ^ Jeff Baron (11 March 2013). "Book Review: A CAPITALIST IN NORTH KOREA". 38 North. School of Advanced International Studies. Retrieved 11 March 2013.
  11. ^ Eric Talmadge (23 February 2014). "North Korea: Where the Internet has just 5,500 sites". Toronto Star. Associated Press. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  12. ^ Williams, Martyn (22 February 2019). "Manbang IPTV Service in Depth". 38 North. The Henry L. Stimson Center. Retrieved 6 March 2019.
  13. ^ Khazan, Olga (December 11, 2012). "What it's like to use the Internet in North Korea". Washington Post. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  14. ^ Jung, Yang. "Controlling Internet Café in North Korea". DailyNK. Retrieved 19 July 2016.
  15. ^ Martyn Williams (30 July 2013). "Android tablet gives rare glimpse at North Korean tech". IT World. Retrieved 15 July 2014.
  16. ^ Jakhar, Pratik (15 December 2018). "North Korea's high-tech pursuits: Propaganda or progress?". BBC.
  17. ^ a b Christopher Rhoads and Farnaz Fassihi, May 28, 2011, Iran Vows to Unplug Internet, Wall Street Journal

External links[edit]