North Korea is notorious for its isolationist stance.
The country allows tourism, but only through an extremely restricted program. It’s no surprise, then, that internet in North Korea isn’t exactly an open highway of information.
A new video from Tech Insider broke down how the internet works in North Korea.
North Korean internet is called 'Kwangmyong' because it's a custom, closed off version of the internet. As a result, websites in North Korea use different web addresses than we're used to, and they are unable to access the wider internet.
'Kwangmyong' is free to access, but in a country with widespread poverty and inadequate public services like libraries, only so many citizens are logging on. Resultantly, in a country of near 25 million people, only 'a few thousand' are using the walled-garden internet available.
There is only one internet service provider (ISP) in North Korea: Star Joint Venture. Like the name implies, it's a joint venture between the North Korean government's Post and Telecommunications Corporation and Thailand-based Loxley Pacific. Before Star Joint Venture started operating in December 2009, the only way to access internet in North Korea was via satellite link to Germany.
As you might expect, the walled garden that is North Korean internet is mainly a service portal for foreigners, the North Korean military, and citizens with the means to access it. If you need to book a flight, it will do. If you want to look up the North Korean hunger crisis of the 1990s, you're out of luck.
There are apparently ways to access a more open internet, though they are reserved for North Korean government officials. No doubt the North Korean government doesn't want its citizenry looking online for fear of the knowledge and communications capability it would give regular people.
Without running water or electricity in many parts of North Korea, it's likely that most citizens aren't aware that there's an open internet.
And of course it follows that, without running water or electricity, having a computer is a distant concern. What's the use in owning a computer if you don't have electricity to power it or internet to connect it to? Moreover, if you are able to get your hands on one, you'd better register the device with the North Korean government. Or hide it very carefully.
Should you have the means to acquire a computer, the electricity to run it, the approval from North Korean government officials to use it on the internet, and the ability to sign on to the country's single ISP, you've got two email options: Sili Bank, a Chinese email company, and Chesin.com. There is no Google, no Outlook, and no Yahoo.
Unless you're a foreigner of course. Koryolink provides access, via 3G cellular connection (read: not so fast), to the general internet. Like North Korea's one ISP, Koryolink is a joint venture between between the Egyptian company Global Telecom Holding and the state-owned Korea Post and Telecommunications Corporation. The service operates in North Korea's capital, Pyongyang, as well as five additional cities and on eight highways and railways.
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