August 28, 2014 01:01 UTC

Science & Technology

New Internet Rules Offer Window into North Korea

This could give the outside world a new look into the historically closed country | TECHNOLOGY REPORT

Tweeting in North Korea
Tweeting in North Korea

Multimedia

Play or download an MP3 of this story
From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report in Special English.
 
Foreigners in North Korea can now use Twitter, Facebook, and other social media on their mobile phones. A steady flow of tweets and Instagram pictures have been observed since the mobile service provider Koryolink launched its 3G network last week.
 
The move came just weeks after the North Korean government announced that it would let foreigners bring their own mobile phones into the country. Until recently, foreigners were required to leave the devices with customs officials after crossing the border.
 
The changes represent rare reforms in what is considered the most closed country in the world. Some observers say it could be a sign that North Korea's new leader, Kim Jong Un, is open to easing official restrictions.
 
Martyn Williams operates the North Korea Tech blog. He told VOA that the changes could create a hole in the wall of censorship that keeps out almost all foreign information.
 
"Every time that new technology is adopted, especially in authoritarian countries, when you look back, you'll be able to see that it was another nail in the coffin of censorship. It was another crack in the wall, so to speak."
 
The new mobile Internet service will only be available to the small number of foreigners in North Korea.
 
Martyn Williams says the service could change the way foreign media report on North Korea. He says having an Internet connection on a camera-equipped mobile phone means reporters can avoid some of the official restrictions.
 
"It gives reporters the ability to take a picture and to send the picture immediately. And then that means that once the picture is gone, even if someone comes up and says you can't take that picture, you have to delete it. You can turn around and say 'I'm sorry, but it's already sent.' Or you can delete it, but you know that it's already gone."
 
David Slatter works in Seoul as a writer for the website NKNews.org. He admits that reporters may be able to publish some images without the approval of the North Korean government. But he says their effect may be limited.
 
"At the moment, it seems very interesting. But in a few months, I do question how much will these photos really be covered if we just have the same handful of 10-11 people inside Pyongyang tweeting about their lunch."
 
Gareth Johnson directs Young Pioneer Tours, which takes foreigners on trips to North Korea. He believes that these ordinary pictures could prove to be helpful.
 
"In my mind, one fairly positive thing that is going to happen is people are going to see it less as a freak show.
 
China's official Xinhua news agency says the Koryolink SIM card will cost $200. Data will cost an additional $200 for 2 gigabytes.
This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Learn with The News

  • Investors and brokers in the Asia Commercial Bank (ACB) Stock Exchange in Hanoi, Vietnam.

    Audio Investors Return to Vietnam After Anti-China Protests

    Foreign investment in Vietnam has now returned to levels that existed before the protests. The flow of money returned for three main reasons. The government has promised to protect foreign investors. Also, the economy continues to grow. Finally, the cost of manufacturing remains low. More

  • This March 23, 2008 photo provided by the Hennepin County, Minn. Sheriff's Office shows Douglas McAuthur McCain.

    Audio American Jihadist Killed in Syria

    Also, pro-Russian separatists capture main coastal town in Ukraine. And, a young bone cancer patient in China is the first person to receive a spinal part made on a 3-D printer | In the News More

  • An Israeli army officer gives explanations to journalists during an army organised tour in a tunnel said to be used by Palestinian militants for cross-border attacks, July 25, 2014. U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry pressed regional leaders to nail down

    Audio Tunnel Warfare: From Gaza to North Korea

    North Korea suspected of digging tunnels under the Demilitarized Zone to aid in attack on South Korea. More

  • Palestinians celebrate following announcement of a cease-fire in Gaza City Aug. 26, 2014.

    Audio Israel and the Palestinians Agree to Truce

    The leaders of Russia and Ukraine have also announced an agreement to begin talks about a possible cease-fire in eastern Ukraine. And, in Hollywood, 'Breaking Bad' wins Emmy for best drama series | In the News More

  • This composite image made available by NASA and assembled by data acquired from the Suomi NPP satellite in April and October 2012 uses the satellite’s Visible Infrared Imaging Radiometer Suite (VIIRS), to show the U.S's lights at night.

    Audio Is North Korea Preparing to Strike US Electric Grid?

    An advisor to Congress says country’s electric system is mostly unprotected and vulnerable to an EMP attack. He said North Korea tested the plan last year when it put a satellite into orbit. The satellite was in a position where it could carry out such an attack against the United States. More

Featured Stories

Practice Your Writing

Confessions of an English Learner BlogConfessions of an English Learner Blog

Tell us About Our Programs