The Internet in North Korea

A North Korean missile unit takes part in a military parade in Pyongyang

Most Western countries take the Internet for granted. Being able to jump onto Google to search for your families Christmas presents may seem like a simple task to many of us, however, for the people of North Korea it is an alien concept.

A friend intends to visit the country just to “go somewhere different” and while researching into his trip he may have come across the hilarious quirk that on any North Korean website, the leader Kim Jong-un’s name is automatically displayed ever so slightly bigger than the text around it. Not by much, but just enough to make it stand out.


This may seem trivial, but it is symptomatic of a state where there are strict controls over the information its citizens are allowed to access and government propaganda is widespread. Pyongyang, the North Korean capital has a solitary cyber café and the computers there don’t run Windows. They run a custom-built operating system, Red Star which was reportedly commissioned by the late Kim Jong-il himself.


The calendar on this operating system may confuse the uninitiated, showing a date of 101, the number of years since the birth of Kim Il-sung. However, access to the Internet in the country is not for normal citizens. Only a select number in the country, known as elites, as well as some academics and scientists are allowed to visit and what they can visit is a very narrow version, with the majority of websites blocked. This system is controlled by the country’s lone, state-run internet service provider. There is no Facebook or Twitter here.



North Korea


Those who do have access to the Internet have to be extremely careful what they write with reports that journalists have been sent to revolutionisation camps for spelling errors. I don’t think I would last very long.  There are strict rules in the country itself with a cult like persona around the Kim family. It has the worlds 4th largest active duty army and one of the lowest-ranking human rights records of any country.

Perhaps visiting the country is not such a good idea.


Thanks for reading,


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