North Korea develops internet

North Korea may be about to open its first domestically hosted website accessible from the internet.

North Korea may be about to open its first domestically hosted website accessible from the internet.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported late last week that the country's Academy of Sciences has opened a website partly to "introduce local scientific and technological achievements to other countries"

The report also included an address for the site, , although it is inaccessible at present.

The agency hinted that the site may be available from overseas, and it is also the first time that a website address under the North Korean ".kp" top-level domain has been reported by official media.

The ".kp" domain has been reserved for the country for many years but is dormant with no governing body registered with the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA), which is the US-based body responsible for international top-level domains.

Technical details of domain name servers for the ".kp" domain will have to be registered with IANA before allocated names can be widely accessed from overseas.

At present, the new home page is available through a domestic intranet service. Major North Korean universities, ministries and other official establishments operate home pages on a nationwide domestic intranet called Kwangmyong. The network, which has been in operation for at least a year, is not connected to the internet and offers domestic web access and limited e-mail functionality to authorised users.

Access to any information from outside the country, such as television and radio, is tightly controlled by the government, and computers remain out of the grasp of average citizens.

The capital city of Pyongyang boasts a single internet cafe connected via a line to China, which is used by the handful of tourists and diplomats who visit the city.

In addition Kim Jong Il, leader of the hard-line communist nation is an avid internet user and regularly checks South Korean websites, according to South Korean media reports.

Martyn Williams writes for IDG News Service

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