Getting News from North Korea

Author’s Note: This post originally appeared on the Society of Professional Journalists’ International Journalism Committee blog titled Journalism and the World.

It’s common knowledge that it is incredibly difficult to get news reports out of North Korea. All one has to do is look at the recent incident involving Current TV journalists Euna Lee and Laura Ling as an example.

But that doesn’t mean that the country is keeping quiet.

The Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s official information provider, has a Twitter page (http://twitter.com/kcna_dprk) full of “tweets” ranging from praise of Kim Jong-il’s policies and practices to routine meetings with foreign delegations. The page also has a link to what appears to be KCNA’s website (http://www.kcna.co.jp).

From here in Seoul, I can see KCNA’s Twitter page. In fact, I’m one of its followers. The KCNA is following me, too (http://twitter.com/ButlerCain).

However, I can’t follow the Twitter links to KCNA’s full postings (or to its web site) because South Korea blocks Internet access to them.

Online content that routinely supports or praises North Korea is subject to online filters here. South Korea’s National Security Law, which was approved several years ago, blocks access to major North Korean web sites.

The Chosun Ilbo reported last month in its English edition on the concern that a member of Parliament has about the growing ease with which people can bypass the filters through proxy servers and other methods.

According to the report, authorities are looking into the issue and are “trying to develop methods to make access [to North Korean web sites] more difficult.”

Butler

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