New Emissary

North Korea’s Twitter Tactics

Has the DPRK enlisted Twitter in a propaganda war against its international enemies?

A new development in the hard-to-turn away from propaganda war going on in the Korean peninsula involves the DPRK enlisting Internet-based forums now as methods of battle against its counterpart to the south and the US.

Last week, North Korea’s government-operated Uriminzokkiri website announced that it had started a Twitter account and a YouTube channel. Ironically, both of these on-line communities are banned from use for most of the communist country’s people.

And indeed, over 80 videos have already been uploaded to the YouTube account, which Canadian Business reports are all clips ‘condemnation of "warmongers" South Korea and the US for blaming North Korea for the sinking of a South Korean warship in March.’

As of the time of writing there have been 73 tweets made at the @uriminzok Twitter account, which was started August 12, and it already more than 10,000 followers including major international media outlets such as CNN and the Financial Times. According to the AP, these tweets link ‘to Uriminzokkiri reports that threaten "merciless retaliation" against South Korea and the US and call South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's administration a "prostitute of the US.’”

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A spokesperson for the Obama administration has responded to all of this by saying that North Korea has ‘bitten off more than it can chew’ with this move and that it’s opened a big can of worms, comparing it to the failed attempts by the Iranian government to cut its citizens off from social networking sites used by the country’s opposition groups during the election last year.

Meanwhile, the Korea Times reports that although the DPRK Twitter account is the ‘talk of the town’ in Seoul, people are afraid to follow it for fear of imprisonment. Part of the National Security Law in South Korea stipulates that anyone who ‘corresponds or communicates with an anti-government group is subject to a maximum jail term of 10 years.’