August 19, 2010

North Korea Launches Twitter Account

North Korea has opened a Twitter account and has started using the social media network to post links to anti-South Korean and anti-American statements posted to their Uriminzokkiri.com (Among Our Nation) website, according to various media reports.

The first Tweet sent via the new @uriminzok account, which was translated from Korean by the folks at social media news website Mashable and paraphrased by WebNewser reporter David Cohen on Monday, "said 'our nation' now has a Twitter account." Subsequent messages "contained links to historical North Korean documents and news items from Uriminzokkiri," Cohen added.

In a Thursday story, AFP reporter Jung Ha-won notes that the Twitter account is part of an ongoing battle with South Korean officials, who have blocked access to the North Korean website and have vowed to ban the @uriminzok account as well.

"We are constantly monitoring the North's Twitter account, to see if it posts any links using new domains," an unidentified official from the South's Korea Communications Commission told AFP. "Whenever the North uses different routes, we will block them so that no South Korean followers will get access to the Web site."

North Korean officials, on the other hand, have reportedly provided downloadable software that can allow users to overcome the blockade and gain access to the site, "which is Pyongyang's official Internet mouthpiece," according to Ha-won.

The move comes about a month after officials from Pyongyang launched a YouTube channel to spread pro-North Korean and pro-Kim Jong-Il propaganda, according to AFP. The newly launched Twitter account currently had more than 8,500 followers, according to Ha-won.

Under South Korean law, unauthorized communications with North Koreans is strictly prohibited and could be punishable by imprisonment. On Wednesday, South Korean's Unification Ministry issued a warning to anyone who replied to or "retweeted" messages posted to the @uriminzok account, according to the AFP.

Meanwhile, earlier this week, U.S. State Department Chief Spokesman Philip Crowley "used his own account on the popular micro-blogging site to 'welcome North Korea to Twitter and the networked world'" while warning the nation that "it might wind up with more than it bargained for by entering the connected world," by potentially opening the door for its citizens to access the Internet and the micro-blogging website, Ha-won reported on Thursday.

"The North Korean government has joined Twitter, but is it prepared to allow its citizens to be connected as well?" The State Department official Tweeted via his personal account (@PJCrowley) on August 17. "The Hermit Kingdom will not change overnight, but technology once introduced can't be shut down."


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