For North Koreans—those who can afford a computer and electricity anyway—the World Wide Web looks a lot like a late 1980’s computer bulletin board. I guess when you live in a totalitarian communist crap hole, your expectations for what qualifies as “world wide” are pretty low, but this is still pretty bad. My guess is that the North Korean people would be better served by a Magic 8-Ball than what their diminutive Dennis Rodman fanboi has provided for them.
On Monday afternoon, a security engineer named Matt Bryant stumbled upon a part of the Internet that is usually hidden from most of the world: a list of websites available to people with Internet access in North Korea.
The total number of sites was just 28.
Bryant’s list includes every site ending in .kp, which is the country code associated with North Korea.
About 149.9 million websites end in country codes, such .de for Germany or .cn for China. More than 10 million sites end in .cn, according to the most recent report by the domain name registry Verisign.
But it appears the North Korean Internet is not a very big place.
When he discovered the list, Bryant was working for a project run by GitHub, which organizes engineers like him to continuously query different parts of the Internet and post the results, as a kind of tick-tock of how the Internet looks around the globe. On Tuesday, GitHub posted the list of 28 North Korean websites.
From there, the list made its way to the popular forum site Reddit, and people began exploring the sites and discussing what they found.
Reddit users are keeping track of the list of 28 sites which include state run news sites, educational sites, arts sites, recipes–for those lucky citizens with access to food–and even tourism sites.
It was a Reddit user who drew the comparison between North Korea and the Web as it exists in the video game Grand Theft Auto 5.
Now, North Korea could bring their web presence into the 21st century if they wanted to. They have the ability. They can hack our networks, so someone over there knows how to Internet. However, the key to maintaining a commie dictatorship is keeping the people uninformed and compliant. Oppressing an entire population through fear and paranoia gets more difficult when the people have access to information.