South Koreans might violate law if they respond to North Korea's "purported" Twitter account.

Posted: 19 Aug 2010   Print   Send a link
Bloomberg, 18 August 2010, Bomi Lim: "South Koreans who post comments on a purported North Korean Twitter Inc. account may fall foul of national security laws that bar the country’s citizens from communicating with their Cold War foes. 'People would have to bear in mind that they could be violating the law' if it is confirmed to be North Korean, Unification Ministry spokeswoman Lee Jong Joo told reporters today in Seoul. The government is investigating the suspected accounts on Twitter and Google Inc.’s YouTube site, she said, without elaborating." -- But South Koreans would be posting comments to Twitter, not to any North Korean based website.

Yonhap News Agency, 19 August 2010, Sam Kim: "South Korea quickly blocked access by its nationals to the [@uriminzokkiri] statements, citing a law that requires them to gain government approval if they want to view such material. An official at the Korea Communications Commission, however, said that North Korea continues to modify the Internet protocol (IP) addresses of its statements to fool the South Korean watchdog. ... Observers said Seoul may be overreacting. The North Korean Twitter Web page 'is more amusing than anything else,' Michael Breen, author of 'The Koreans' who runs a communications consulting firm in Seoul, said. 'The government here needs to lighten up and give its own people access and stop being afraid of the North Korean propaganda.' 'Twitter is a symbol of information technology. The South should consider ways to open the North through channels like Twitter rather than block them,' Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies, said." -- I can see how South Korea can block www.uriminzokkiri.com, but can they block @uriminzokkiri without blocking Twitter altogether?

PC World, 17 August 2010, Martyn Williams: "The U.S. government has welcomed North Korea's jump onto Twitter and challenged the country to let its citizens see the recently created account. 'We use Twitter to connect, to inform, and to debate. We welcome North Korea to Twitter and the networked world,' wrote Philip Crowley, a state department spokesman on his Twitter account. The message came days after Uriminzokkiri, the closest thing the insular country has to an official Web site, established a Twitter account. The account has to date posted messages only in Korean but that hasn't stopped it becoming somewhat of a Twitter hit. Publicity from the launch has resulted in over 5,000 followers subscribing to the slow stream of government propaganda. 'The North Korean government has joined Twitter, but is it prepared to allow its citizens to be connected as well?,' asked Crowley on his Twitter account."

Note that Bloomberg uses "purported" and "suspected" to describe the YouTube and Twitter accounts. It's difficult to know for sure if any DPRK website is really "official. See www.uriminzokkiri.com/Newspaper/english/. Also www.korea-dpr.com, "the Official Webpage of The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)," though apparently from Europe. And www.kcna.co.jp, the Korean Central News Agency, obviously via Japan. See previous post about same subject.