North Korea expands net presence

Image caption,
Net links were opened up for journalists covering North Korea's celebrations

North Korea's celebrations for the 65th anniversary of the ruling Workers' Party were marked by an expansion of the nation's online presence.

Official statements about the celebrations were shown on a website for the nation's news agency.

It is one of about 1,000 North Korean domains reserved for the country that have yet to be used.

Despite the expansion, use of the net inside North Korea is still tightly controlled.

Computer news service IDG noticed the use of the domain ending in .kp - the country code reserved for the nation. The expansion was signalled in June 2010 when 1,024 net addresses were reserved for the nation.

Before now, North Korea's web presence, including its official announcements, has been done via sites operating outside the country or via direct links to China.

Journalists reporting on the celebrations also revealed that net access for them had been significantly improved. Typically any journalist in the nation is only allowed to go online via officially designated computers.

By contrast, during the celebrations journalists were allowed to connect through a net connection using their own computers.

Melissa Chan, a correspondent for Al Jazeera, used the link to appear on the TV news channel via Skype.

Within North Korea, only a few thousand people are believed to get access to the worldwide web. An internal network, called Kwangmyong, exists that connects universities, libraries and net cafes but it has no international links.

It is not clear when, or if, other net addresses reserved for North Korea will be used.

A representative of the North Korean embassy in London declined to comment.

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