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Reports Say North Korea Hit by Internet Outage


A NASA image released last February taken from the International Space Station a month earlier showing the night view of the Korean Peninsula, and North Korea in the middle is almost completely dark compared to neighboring South Korea (bottom right) and China (top left). REUTERS/NASA-JSC/Handout

A NASA image released last February taken from the International Space Station a month earlier showing the night view of the Korean Peninsula, and North Korea in the middle is almost completely dark compared to neighboring South Korea (bottom right) and China (top left). REUTERS/NASA-JSC/Handout

North Korea appears to be experiencing a widespread Internet outage. The cause of the outage is not clear. However, hours earlier, President Barack Obama warned that the U.S. would answer a computer attack against Sony Pictures. U.S. investigators blamed the cyberattack on North Korea.

A U.S. state department spokeswoman would not comment when asked about the outage in North Korea. However, she did say that the U.S. government was considering a number of actions. She said possible actions include some that might not be seen.

President Obama made his comments on the news network CNN. He said he does not believe the cyberattack on Sony Pictures was an act of war by North Korea. The U.S. says North Korea carried out what the president called "cyber-vandalism.”

Mr. Obama says his administration is planning a “proportionate” answer to the computer hacking. The attack led Sony to cancel a humor film about North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

President Obama said the stealing and leak of Sony emails and other private information did not amount to an act of war.

"No, I don’t think it was an act of war. I think it was an act of cyber vandalism that was very costly, very expensive (to Sony). We take it very seriously. We will respond proportionately, as I said. But, we’re going to be in an environment in this new world where so much is digitalized that both state and non-state actors are going to have the capacity to disrupt out lives in all sorts of ways. We have to do a much better job of guarding against that."

Mr. Obama did not explain what actions the United States may take. He suggested that North Korea again could be placed on a list of states that support terrorism. The administration of former President George W. Bush had removed North Korea from that list in 2008.

Also on Sunday, Republican Party Senator John McCain, of Arizona, said the incident was more than vandalism. He called for strong action.

U.S. investigators say North Korea launched the attack. It denies any responsibility. North Korea condemned the movie “The Interview” as an act of terrorism. North Korea said the cyber-attack may have been carried out by its supporters. A group called “Guardians of Peace” took responsibility for the cyber-attack.

Sony was preparing to release the movie on December 25. However, the movie company decided to withdraw the film after a major group of movie theaters cancelled plans to show the film. A lawyer for Sony, David Boies, defended the filmmaking company’s decision. He said it was understandable that theaters decided not to show the movie because of threats. It is estimated the movie cost Sony Pictures $40 million to make.

I'm Mario Ritter.

VOA's Victor Beattie reported this story from Washington. Mario Ritter wrote it for Learning English. Caty Weaver was the editor.

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