The North Korean internet is a sad and lonely place
A recent leak reveals exactly how many websites are registered to sites the North Korean internet, and the answer is kinda sad.
North Korea is a weird place. The hermit country is a warped reflection of the modern world, with imitations of thriving technologies that are common in many other countries around the world. Things like, say, the internet.
A mistake by the people in charge of regulating and censoring the North Korean internet gave us a look at exactly how many websites are registered in the country under the approved .kp domain. Now, to put this reveal in perspective, there are reportedly around one billion websites around the world. Many of those are separate sites under the same company’s oversite (Yahoo.com is considered separate from Yahoo Sports, for example), but there are a lot of sites globally and more come and go each day.
In North Korea, there are 28 websites. The entire North Korean internet consists of 28 sites.
North Korea first joined the internet back in 2010. Most of its sites are hosted in China, but the majority are run through a domestic-only service known as Kwangmyong. It is so heavily regulated that many North Koreans are not even aware of the internet. There are other North Korean sites, but only 28 are available for citizens – the rest are for military and governmental use. The same is true of the country’s broadband infrastructure.
The leak was picked up by Github, who explained how it occurred. “On Sept 19, 2016, at approximately 10:00PM (PST), one of North Korea’s top level name servers was accidentally configured to allow global DNS zone transfers. This allows anyone who performs an `AXFR` (zone transfer) request to the country’s `ns2.kptc.kp` nameserver to get a copy of the nation’s top level DNS data. This was detected by the [TL;DR Project].”
The sites were still available for anyone to check out for a while after the leak, but they have since been locked down. According to IFLScience, the sites were fairly innocuous, and included a travel site, a cooking site, a film site, the North Korean tourist board, local news agencies, educational sites (espousing government approved “facts”), and a social network called “Friend,” which is probably the lonliest and most stressfully polite social media site in the world.
Of them all, the news sites were arguably the most North Korean-ish. Some of the stories featured headlines like “[North] Korean nuclear test of will for sovereignty and peace,” and “Narcotic-related Crimes Increase Among S. Korean Youngsters.” Others still espoused the virtues of the Glorious Leader, while some went on to discuss how North Korea is slowly destroying the US military.
You get the idea.
Maybe one day things will go in the opposite direction and the North Koreans will accidentally get a look at the rest of the world. If so, god help them when they get to the cat pics. That’s a rabbit hole that can destroy a nation.