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 28 2014 - UAE hints at body to monitor forex pegThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula)   An advisory body to the UAE government has suggested that the central bank review the country's currency peg to the US dollar, but local bankers said any change to the peg ...

 Nov 28 2014 - Qatar bourse index down by 3.72pc last weekThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula)  Qatari bourse fell on heavy selloff on latest Opec pessimism on output cut. The benchmark index plunged by 1.39 percent to finish at 13,330 yesterday.The entire sector ...

 Nov 28 2014 - Qatar calls for creating Common Islamic MarketThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula)  Speaking on behalf of all Arab countries, Qatar's Minister of Economy and Commerce, H E Sheikh Ahmed bin Jassim bin Mohamed Al Thani, yesterday at the Ministerial Session of ...

 Nov 28 2014 - Saudis block Opec output cutThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula)  Saudi Arabia blocked calls yesterday from poorer members of the Opec oil exporter group for production cuts to arrest a slide in global prices, sending benchmark crude ...

 Nov 28 2014 - Don't bypass oil firm, Libya rival govt warnsThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula)  Libya's parallel government controlling the capital will take legal action against buyers of oil bypassing the Tripoli-based state oil firm National Oil Corporation (NOC), ...

 Nov 28 2014 - Qatar Airways partners with Coca Cola IPTLThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula)  Qatar Airways (QA) has teamed up with Coca-Cola International Premier Tennis League (IPTL) as the presenting sponsor for the inaugural edition of the event.The IPTL is the ...

 Nov 28 2014 - Aljazeera to hold global hackathonThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula)   Aljazeera is organising its first hackathon where some of the most innovative minds in media and technology from around the globe will work together and collaborate on the ...

 Nov 28 2014 - GCC 'Summit key to boosting unity'The Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula)  H M King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain yesterday met GCC Secretary-General Dr Abdullatif bin Rashid Al Zayani, who is on a GCC tour.King Hamad stressed the importance ...

 Nov 28 2014 - India- New visa rules to boost tourist numbersThe Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula)   Tourists travelling to India from 43 countries, including the US, will no longer have to queue at their local consulates to obtain visas after New Delhi yesterday announced ...

 Nov 28 2014 - Pakistan talking to Qatar about LNG imports in 2015The Peninsula
(MENAFN - The Peninsula)  Energy-starved Pakistan is negotiating with Qatar to begin imports of liquefied natural gas (LNG) early next year, Pakistan's petroleum minister said on Friday.Pakistan is ...

more...


 






Google

 
 

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