On Monday, the 19th of September 2016, Matt Bryant, who is a security engineer came across a segment of the internet that very few people have encountered. This part of the web has stayed out if the reach of most of the world. It was a list of websites that the people of North Korea Have access to.
Compared to what most people can access in different countries, North Koreans can only see a total of 28 websites,and that is if they even have access to the internet, something that is not very common to the average North Korean.
All of Bryant’s sites end in .kp, which is a country code identifying the sites as North Korean.
There are over 150 million websites that have country codes appended to them. For example, German sites have .de, China has .cn, and Japan has .jp. There are about 10 million sites that end in .cn, a sign that they are Chinese.
The time Bryant discovered the list of NK sites, he was working as a part of a group of computer software engineers hired by Github to scan different parts of the web as a means of learning how different parts of the web work. Then on Tuesday, Github published the list containing 28 websites from North Korea.
That was just the beginning. The list somehow found its way to the popular website, Reddit and different people begun to check the sites out and reported what they found. On Wednesday, reports surfaced that showed that a number of the websites were down, probably due to the spike in traffic.
Most of the websites were about News, and Education. They were in the North Korean language on topics including a ticketing site for an Airline, a website for ‘unity’, and a university site.
There was even one site which some Reddit users identified as a social media site named friend.com.kp. One other seems to contain recipes for North Korean dishes.
Bryant said in a statement: “We now have what we believe is the complete list of North Korean websites, which is shockingly small.”
Most of the people in North Korea have no internet access. In a speech made in South Korea, the US secretary of State John Kerry said the neighbors up north had one of the lowest rate of internet access due to the level of centralized control imposed on the people.
But there are other ways North Korean connect with each other. There is also an intranet called Kwangmyong, which according to reports is linked by fibre optics within North Korea’s borders.