North Korea has been making headlines recently with its nuclear tests and ballistic missiles. With announcements that it has achieved miniaturization, the country has again become the topic of discussion at the United Nations.
But yesterday saw different news regarding North Korea. The country is going through times of economic hardship. Despite that, the Pyongyang regime insists that North Korea is a developed country, with all the conveniences of modern living. The country claims to have computers and the internet for its citizens.
A Small Number of Websites
Having said that, the news about North Korea and the internet was somewhat embarrassing. It turns out that the grand total of north Korean websites is 28. That’s right, 28. As in less than 30. This from a country that sees itself as a future nuclear power looks somewhat backwards.
North Korea, like most countries, has its own country code domain name. A country code domain name are the last two letters after the dot in the URL of a website. Basically what you type in the address bar of your browser. For website that don’t end in .com that is. For example, websites that end in “.de” are German websites. “.de” is for Deutschland, the way you say Germany in German. Addresses that end in “.jp” are for Japanese websites. And websites ending in “.eu” belong to the European Union.
The number of websites that use the “.kp” domain name is just 28. The “.kp” domain name is for North Korea. That is an incredibly small number, even for a country the size of North Korea. To put things in perspective, there are over 16 million website addresses that end with the “.de” domain name.
Some of the websites that have a “.kp” domain name make sense within the logic of that country. kcna.kp is the website for the state news agency, while rodong.rep.kp is the website for the state newspaper. Another website out of the 28 that makes sense is the website of the North Korean national airline, Air Koryo.
An Accidental Find
Other websites are more unusual. One such website is at the address friend.com.kp. The title of the website is simply “Friend” and it looks like some kind of social network. Another website, cooks.org.kp is a website with cooking recipes. There is also one website dedicated to North Korean movies, korfilm.com.kp. All these websites have a very basic Web design. North Korea’s online presence can be described as rudimentary at best.
The discovery was made by Doug Madory who is a researcher at Dyn, an Internet monitor. He noticed that system administrators in North Korea had made a mistake. The mistake allowed users from the outside of North Korea to query websites that had the “.kp” name. What he discovered soon started circulating on Reddit. Thousands of users began to explore the websites that they could find.
Since then, the internet infrastructure of North Korea seems to have faltered. Since Wednesday morning, the websites appear to have stopped working at all. Perhaps the website administrators were not prepared for so much traffic.
Image source: here.