Report: North Korean e-mail service launched

Report: North Korean e-mail service launched

A new email service linking North Korea with the rest of the world has begun, according to an official news report.

The service is being offered by the International Communications Centre of North Korea, according to the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA), a government-run news service.

The report provided few details about the service, but said that it could be accessed by dialling 165 and entering a user name and password. Receiving email through the system was free and correspondence was also private because of a network security system, KCNA said.

It was unclear from the brief report whether the privacy implied meant safe from the eyes of other users or private from government monitors.

The North Korean government is regarded as maintaining one of the harshest regimes in the world and keeps a close eye on its citizens' activities.

The first email service to link North Korea with the rest of the world was launched by a Chinese company, Silibank, in 2001.

The service requires both sender and recipient be members and charges $US1.20 per 10k email message.

Until recently, the system transferred messages between a server in Shenyang, China, and Pyongyang, North Korea, several times a day, but last week the two were connected via a full-time 10Mbit per second leased line, according to a notice on Silibank's home page.

Silibank is currently used by at least some official organisations and foreign companies.

KCNA did not indicate what restrictions, if any, will be placed on access to the e-mail service although a computer remains out of the price reach of most Pyongyang residents and even more so for citizens who live outside of the capital.

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