N.Korea Likely to Provide Internet Service from 2009

Choson Ilbo
8/7/2008

It seems likely that North Korea will finally join the worldwide web and provide Internet service from next year. Kim Sang-myung, the chief of the North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity, a group of former North Korean professionals, at a symposium in the National Assembly on Wednesday said, “According to the Internet Access Roadmap it launched in 2002, North Korea will begin providing Internet service for special agencies and authorized individuals as early as next year.”

Kim defected from North Korea in 2004, when he was a professor of computer engineering at Communist University. An expert on North Korea’s information technology, he is currently an adjunct professor at Kyonggi University and a fellow at the Institute of North Korea Studies.

Implementation of the roadmap, which major agencies such as the Workers’ Party, the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, the Ministry of Electronic Industry, and the North Korea Academy of Sciences have pushed for under the instructions of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il since 2002, is now at its final stage, he said.

First of all, North Korea will establish infrastructure for a super-speed Internet service network by laying optical cables between Pyongyang and Hamhung and extending them to Chongjin and Shinuiju this year. North Korea has recently succeeded in consolidating security solutions for the prevention of online leaks of data to foreign countries and of online intrusions, and in enhancing service stability.

It has also recently finished necessary consultations with the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) for the Internet service in North Korea. In this situation, North Korea can begin providing Internet service any time provided equipment for server and Internet-based relay systems is supplied, Kim said.

“North Korea is strongly determined to be part of the global community through the Internet,” he said. “After watching China and Vietnam control the Internet effectively although these countries have opened up Internet wireless networks since the early days of their opening, the North has concluded that it can now introduce the Internet service.”

Currently, North Korea provides only a limited service via a kind of Intranet called Kwangmyong, through which it is possible to access databases on scientific and technological information at North Korean central government agencies.

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