Quotes: MENA   Enter Symbol: NewsLetter: Search: advanced

Wary N. Korea struggles to stay afloat in info age  Join our daily free Newsletter

MENAFN - Arab News - 05/02/2014
No. of Ratings : 0
Add to Mixx!



(MENAFN -Arab News) It’s late afternoon at the e-library in North Korea’s Kim Il Sung University, where row after row of smartly dressed students sit quietly, their faces bathed in the glow of computer displays as they surf the Internet. On the surface, it’s a familiar-seeming scene, which is exactly why officials are offering it up for a look.North Korea is literally off the charts regarding Internet freedoms. There essentially aren’t any. But the country is increasingly online. Though it deliberately and meticulously keeps its people isolated and in the dark about the outside world, it knows it must enter the information age to survive in the global economy.As with so many other aspects of its internal workings, North Korea has tried hard to keep its relationship to the Internet hidden from foreign eyes. But it opened that door just a crack recently for The Associated Press to reveal a self-contained, tightly controlled Intranet called Kwangmyong, or “Bright.”North Korea thinks Bright is the authoritarian answer to the freewheeling Internet.One of the first things an outside observer notices at Kim Il Sung U is that the students are actually studying. Not wasting time on Facebook or Reddit, no BuzzFeed. In fact, the sites they surf most likely aren’t even on the Internet, but on the North-Korea-only Bright.Chats and e-mail? Monitored.Content? Restricted to the point that the use of Bright hardly even needs to be watched by officials.How about the OS? It’s “Red Star,” now available in version 3.0, which looks a lot like the Microsoft operating system, but is used only in North Korea. Red Star has audio and video players, and even a game — Korean chess. There’s a Firefox-style search engine called “Our Country” that helps users navigate around an estimated 1,000 to 5,500 websites, mostly for universities, government offices, libraries and state-run corporations. Most North Koreans have no access to the Internet at all.“The goal is to reap the benefits of information technology, while keeping out potentially corrosive foreign influences,” said Scott Bruce, a North Korea IT expert and analyst at the Arlington, Virginia-based nonprofit CRDF Global.Copies of Red Star have found their way outside of the North and been studied abroad. But North Korea is so secretive about Bright, which it launched more than a decade ago, that it is off-limits to even the foreign technical advisers it brings in. It can be accessed only in the North and is meant exclusively for domestic use.“I haven’t had a time when I’ve been allowed to use the Intranet — since the point is that it is not open to foreigners,” said Will Scott, a computer sciences instructor at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology who has worked about as closely with North Korea’s attempt to get wired as any other foreigner.Through daily interactions with North Korean students at his university, however, Scott has been able to glean a general outline of what Bright is all about.“The Intranet provides a connection between industry, universities and the government. It seems to be focused on information propagation, rather than commerce, entertainment or communication,” he told the AP. “Given the limited resources in the country, where computers are likely not to be owned by individuals, and are a valuable resource, this has a striking resemblance to the uses first made of the Internet in the US when it was introduced in the ‘80s.”Technologically, he said, North Korea’s Intranet is a mini-Internet, with a combination of joint venture companies and vaguely government-affiliated labs that collectively maintain the core infrastructure that exists on the global Web.Graduate students and North Korean professors at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology are allowed to access the real Internet from a dedicated computer lab, similar to the e-library at Kim Il Sung University. They receive the same speed and unfiltered access that foreign instructors do, although everyone’s access is monitored. Scott said the graduate students don’t use the Internet nearly as much as Americans would, treating it more like the way Western students might visit a library to find books.Students’ e-mails must be reviewed and approved by one of the vice presidents of the university before they can be sent, which, Scott said, means they rarely use e-mail.“There is some resistance to providing Internet access to students because it requires some level of political capital, and is generally discouraged by higher-up ministries as not worth the potential danger,” he said. “I think you would find a surprising lack of technical surveillance on the Intranet, due largely to the high level of self-censorship built into the collective psyche in the country.”Because of the general population’s lack of experience with the Internet — and the perception that it is dangerous, forbidden territory — there is no grassroots clamor in North Korea for change.So deeply engrained are the government’s teachings about dealings with the outside world that even some of the students at Kim Il Sung University said they see the Internet as a tool best used in moderation.“I use the Internet often to look for English reference books,” said Ri Jong Hyok, a 21-year-old math student. “But actually the national Intranet has most of the books that I need so I don’t need to use it so much.”Still, some experts believe that as more North Koreans become familiar with the benefits of going online — a trend that would seem inevitable if North Korea is to keep afloat in the information age — it will become increasingly difficult for the ruling regime to keep the IT dam from bursting.


 


Arab News




  MENA News Headlines
 Nov 24 2014 - Pharrell joins line-up for New Years Eve bash in DubaiKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) The multiple Grammy award winner is just one of a handful of artists set to take part in the show that will be broadcast live to more than 130 countries. It’s fair ...

 Nov 24 2014 - UAE- Why Aniston is one up on Kim KardashianKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Aniston who posed nude for Rolling Stone magazine in 1996 says I was an original. Shunning the hype around reality TV star Kim Kardashian’s derriere picture Jennifer ...

 Nov 24 2014 - UAE- Football legend Gary Lineker on playing presentingKhaleej Times
(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) England football ace Gary Lineker reveals his tricky transition from playing to presenting and why hes envious of the modern game. As an English person meeting Gary ...

 Nov 24 2014 - Algerian Prime Minister Leaves DohaQatar News Agency
(MENAFN - QNA) Algerian Prime Minister Abdelmalik Sellal left Doha on Monday, wrapping up an official visit to the country.      Sellal was seen off upon departure at Doha International Airport by ...

 Nov 24 2014 - Oman Oil subsidiaries sign USD44.15m deals with SMEsMENAFN
(MENAFN) Oman Oil Company's (OOC) said that its subsidiaries and affiliates have signed 35 contracts with local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs), with an estimated worth of USD44.15 million, Times ...

 Nov 24 2014 - Kuwait's exports of crude oil to China hit 27.8 percent growth in OctMENAFN
(MENAFN) Kuwait's crude oil exports to China grew 27.8 percent in October from a year earlier to 986,000 tons, equivalent to around 233,000 barrels per day (bpd), data showed, QNA reported.Kuwait's ...

 Nov 24 2014 - GCC petrochemical revenue hits USD89.4b In 2013MENAFN
(MENAFN) According to the Gulf Petrochemicals & Chemicals Association (GPCA), GCC's petrochemical industry posted USD89.4 billion in revenue in 2013, increasing by USD6 billion compared with 2012's ...

 Nov 24 2014 - Oman considers spending cuts, raising taxMENAFN
(MENAFN) Oman's government is reportedly considering spending cuts and raising taxes, including the tax on liquefied natural gas exports, as the Gulf country attempts to deal with the drop in its ...

 Nov 24 2014 - Qatar's Rolls Royce sales up 37 percent in Q3MENAFN
According to Rolls Royce, Qatar has become the fastest growing market for the car manufacturer in the Middle East, after it has registered an increase by 37 percent in sales during the July-September ...

 Nov 24 2014 - Saudi quarry production to reach 327m in 2014MENAFN
(MENAFN) The GCC construction sector has been steadily growing for the last two decades led by the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Saudi Arabia, which resulted in Saudi deciding to increase its quarry ...

more...


 






Google

Click to Apply

 
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network

MENAFN News Market Data Countries Tools Section  
 

Middle East North Africa - Financial Network
Arabic MENAFN

Main News
News By Industry
News By Country

Islamic Finance News
Private Equity News

How-To Guides
Technology Section

Travel Section

Search News

Market Indices
Quotes & Charts

Global Indices
Arab Indices

Commodoties

Oil & Energy

Currencies Cross Rates
Currencies Updates
Currency Converter

USA Stocks
Arab Stocks
 

Algeria 
Bahrain 
Egypt 
Iraq
Jordan 
Kuwait 
Lebanon
Morocco 
Oman 
Palestine
Qatar 
Saudi Arabia 
Syria
Tunisia 
UAE 
Yemen

Weather
Economic Calendar
Financial Glossary


Financial Calculators

RSS Feeds [XML]

Corporate Monitor

Events

Real Estate
Submit Your Property

Arab Research
Buy a Research

Press Releases
Submit your PR

Join Newsletters


 
© 2014 menafn.com All Rights Reserved.  Terms of Service | Privacy Policy | Contact Us | Advertise | About MENAFN | Career Opportunities | Feedback | Help