North Korea moves quietly onto the Internet

The secretive Asian state has registered a block of IP addresses, but no one knows for sure how it will use them

  • Pyongyang, the capital of North Korea, in a file photo from 2002. More than 3 million of the country's 24 million people live here. The government keeps strict control on its subjects, requiring travel permits to move around the country. Few have access to radio or TV broadcasts from outside the country and Internet access is reserved for a handful of elite members of society.

  • Students studying Visual Basic programming at the Mangyongdae Children's Palace in 2002. The classroom, like all classrooms in North Korea, has portraits of both Kim Il Sung, the country's founder, and Kim Jong Il, his son and the current de-facto leader.

  • North Korean computer text books. The book on the left promises "Computer troubleshooting for Windows 98, 2000 and XP," and the one on the right is "BIOS registry, 1,000 applied techniques." North Korean text books typically tend to be out-of-date when compared to those in the west or South Korea.

  • A North Korean telephone directory from 2004

  • At certain points along the border it's possible to receive 3G signals from cellular networks in both countres. Here, signals from the South's SK Telecom and KT Freetel are shown alongside a signal identified as "467-60." The latter is the mobile network code for North Korea's Koryolink, a 3G network that launched in late 2008 by Egypt's Orascom Telecom and the North's Korea Posts and Telecommunications Co.

  • These North Korean-developed computer games are among the few software titles developed in the country that have been sold overseas. They bear the name of the Korea Computer Center, one of North Korea's top software engineering centers.

  • Posters with propaganda slogans like this one are a common sight around Pyongyang. Through such signs and a tight hold on information the government manages to keep order.

  • A sign at the Inter-Korean Transit Office in Paju, the last stop for drivers heading to the Kaesong Industrial Zone in North Korea, warns of tech items prohibited from the north. They include CDs and MP3s, GPS navigation devices, mobile phones, newspapers and magazines, important information in laptops or on USB sticks and digital cameras.

  • The blue United Nations huts at Panmunjeon straddle the border between the two Koreas. Here, everyday, soldiers from the two countries come face-to-face yet rarely speak or gesture to each other. This file photo from 2002 shows South Korea's Freedom House as seen from North Korea.

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