RS2: North Korea

North Korea’s digital divide: Online elites, isolated masses

North Korea is a very special case for the digital divide. Unlike its neighbor, China, North Korea is one of the most censored and sheltered countries in the world, but they are “ever so cautiously going online,” (para. 1) North Korea is allowing for people to “use online dictionaries and text each other on their smart phones,” (para. 2) but just not through the actual Internet / World Wide Web, but through “a tightly sealed intranet of the sort a medium-sized company might use for its employees.” (para. 3) The Digital Divide within North Korea consists of a “two-tiered system where the trusted elite can surf the Internet with relative freedom while the masses are kept inside the national intranet.” (para. 5) Technology wise North Korea is still super behind, in that the percentage of population holding computers and phones, a small, richer population is able to obtain smartphones and rip off ipads, while others in order to access the intranet have to go to a place known as the knowledge sector which is ”North Korea’s biggest e-library, with more than 3,000 terminals where factory workers participate in tele-learning, and university students do research” (para. 9) Whenever accessing the Intranet or Kwangmyong (which has roughly 168 different websites during publishing of article) people use Naenara browser which is “a modified version of FireFox.” (para. 17) This allows them to stay on their enclosed network. Another restriction is that all of the computers, don’t know about phones, run a specific Operating System Red Star which has “a Mac Design, right down to the ‘spinning beach ball’ wait icon,” (para. 20) but has sinister drawbacks. Their OS has many restrictions that allow the North Korean government to spy and basically see everything that is happening on the computer by having “a tracer viewer that takes regular screenshots of what is being displayed.” (para. 24) With North Korea’s population roughly around 25 million, “there are an estimated 2.5-3 million mobile phones in North Korea,” (para. 33) something that has just recently started booming. Kim Jong Un has really been pushing for introducing mobile telecommunications and made “the spread of mobile phones is one of the biggest success stories [for] Kim Jong Un.” (para 34) Slowly North Korea is gaining a censored and secluded internet allowing the people inside the country to be more connected to each other.

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