Friday, July 4, 2014

The e-Walls of North Korea

Sometimes we wonder what it would feel like to live in the ’90s. My suggestion would be to take a tour to North Korea. Several North Korea IT experts and analysts say that the technology in the country is similar to the American ‘90s. Recently, North Korea released its new internet called Kwangmyong, or “Bright.”
This exclusive North Korean “Internet” can only be accessed in universities, government offices, libraries, and state-run corporations. As expected, the internet is tightly controlled by the government. However, to say that the internet is restricted would be an underestimate. It is different from the restrictions that are put in our high schools to make sure their students can’t get on Facebook or twitter. The restrictions are to a point where it should be called isolation—invisible walls blocking North Korea from the rest of the world. In the United States and many other countries, internet is used to connect with others—whether it is to socialize with friends, send and receive e-mails, or watch a YouTube video about things going on around the world. For the North Koreans, the internet, or the “Bright,” is focused on information propagation, rather than commerce, entertainment or communication.
For the internet to be useful, there has to be a search engine like Google or Bing, which we often take advantage of. To prevent its citizens from getting unwanted information from Google or Bing, the North Korean government also developed a search engine called “Our Country” to help its users navigate through the internet. The search engine provides navigation for about 1,000 to 5,000 webpages, compared to the almost a billion websites in the world. The internet is rarely used for emails, because it goes through a rigorous process of review before it can be sent or received.
In addition to “Bright” and “Our Country,” the North Koreans also have their own computer software (OS) called the “Red Star.” This not only controlled what programs could be installed on their computers, but it also made sure that no one cannot bypass the invisible wall set by the government. As exemplified in the novel, The Orphan Master’s Son, the government does not want their citizens to have information. Instead, the people are told to not to think too much and just take in what the government tells them. These acts are violating the freedom of thought and freedom of expression stated in the universal declaration of human rights.


No comments:

Post a Comment