It’s not a secret that citizens in North Korea are granted rather limited access to the wider world beyond their border. The repressive North Korean government demands loyalty, coerced by a steady flow of propaganda. Internet access, which was only just established in the country in 2010, is a privilege granted only to the nation’s elite class. As it stands, North Korea has the lowest rate of Internet access in the world.
But the exact finiteness of the North Korean Internet was revealed recently when Matt Bryant, a security engineer, uncovered the small list of websites available to North Korean browsers.
Bryant made the discovery while working on a project run by GitHub, a project that continuously queries different parts of the Internet and posts the results, to record the ever-changing landscape of the Internet.
In the past, North Korea’s server has been set to ignore the types of queries Bryant sends out. Now, most likely due to oversight by a North Korean technical engineer, the country’s server has begun accepting the requests, and the nation’s web domains have been revealed.
It’s a Small World After All
Bryant called the ‘very small’ findings of his query ‘unsurprising’.
The majority of the twenty-eight sites ending in .kp (the country code associated with North Korea) are banal, poorly designed portals for state propaganda. Also included are: a sport’s news site, a culinary site, something resembling a social media site, and an airline ticketing website for their national airlines, Air Koryo.
The list of domains was posted to Reddit, where users of the popular forum site took to cataloguing and discussing the findings. The spike in traffic caused nearly all of the North Korean sites to crash.
Contents of North Korea’s Intranet Remain Unknown
For the minority of North Korean’s with Internet access, there is another network to explore outside the twenty-eight sites revealed by the GitHub project. North Korea supposedly has an intranet called Kwangmyong that is connected by fiber optic cables and available only within the country’s borders.
A blog called North Korea Tech has reported that North Korea’s intranet connects libraries and universities throughout the nation. The contents of that network, however, remain unknown.