The full scope of North Korea’s private internet has been revealed after the country accidentally gave people outside of the country brief access to it.
The government-controlled internet is a lot smaller than was initially believed, containing just 28 websites in total, including an insurance company, sports website and site containing culinary information and recipes, according to information posted to GitHub.
Previous reports had suggested the North Korean internet was significantly larger, with as many as 5,500 websites. But when access to the country’s web was briefly available this week, the GitHub users found just 28 North Korean domains.
What North Korea’s internet looks like
- Air Koryo – the website for North Korea’s only commercial airline, which operates internal flights as well as international ones to China, Russia and Kuwait
- Korean dishes – a culinary website that contains recipes for North Korean dishes restaurant reviews, which is run by the Korean Association of Cooks
- Friend – the site for the Cultural Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, an organisation based in Spain that organises cultural events and international exchanges between North Korea and other countries. The site contains news, e-books and information about cultural exchange programmes
- Great National Unity – the Pyongyang Broadcasting Agency’s website, this is a Korean language page targetted at people in Japan, China and South Korea
- Korean Association of Social Scientists – a possible education website for adults
- The Korean Central News Agency – a news site for the country’s main news agency
- The Korean International Youth and Children’s Travel Company – possibly a site for foreign visitors
- The Korean National Insurance Corporation – the country’s state-run insurance company
- The Korea Education Fund – the website for an education non-governmental organisation that is in English and Korean
- Korean Elderly Care Fund – another non-governmental organisation’s site that specialises in care for the elderly
- KorFilm – official site for the Pyongyang International Film Festival and the country’s film industry
- Maritime Administration of Korea
- Naenara – Korean for “my country”, this is the government’s official site and a web portal for news, magazines and music
- The Korean Tourism Board
- Rodong Sinmun – the website for the leadership body of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the country’s only political party
- Kim Il Sung University – the website for the first university built in North Korea
- Sports Chosun – sports news site. There is also Faster Korea, which contains information about international sports
- Voice of Korea – website for North Korea’s shortwave broadcaster
- 10 other websites were not online, including what appeared to be the Facebook clone, Starcon
Who can access North Korea’s internet?
North Korea’s internet is accessed through an intranet called “Kwangmyong” or “Bright”, which is an internal network launched in 2000 that includes a search engine, news, email and a browser. The websites are hosted in China, rather than in the country itself.
The intranet is free to use for those with access to a computer. However, computers can cost months of salary and people have to be granted government permission to purchase one.
This means that of the country’s 25 million people, only a few thousand have access to the internet. The full list of websites has been posted on Reddit.
That the country had an internet at all first became common knowledge in 2014 when it suffered an outage after it was attacked by external hackers.
Since then, information about the secret network has gradually leaked out. Earlier this year, a Scottish teenager hacked North Korea’s imitation of Facebook, called “Best Korea’s Social Network“.