In the Economist last week, there was an article entitled "Weird but wired" about the use of the internet in North Korea. Typically, computers in North Korea are utilized for "educational and scientific purposes" but they also have their own form of the internet, dubbed "Kwangmyong" or "bright". This internet is used for a limited number of things, including news dissemination and is, of course, strictly controlled. But it has given elite North Koreans access to email, and others to the wonderful world of online dating (the official interviewed apparently met his girlfriend online).
In terms of North Korea, the internet can be seen as a new media through which to disseminate propaganda, and also as a huge risk to the North Korean government's tight control over information. If individuals can manage to access the broader internet through China, as the article points out is possible, it could pose a potentially huge political disaster for Kim and his government. As we discussed in the last class, it would be a massive shock to most normal North Koreans to discover that not everyone loves and reveres there Dear Leader, nor do most people care much about North Korea aside from nuclear weapons.
With these kinds of risks inherent in the use of the internet, what are the big selling points to Kim? Is this an effort to perhaps create greater and closer ties with the outside world by improving drastically the communication between North Koreans and everyone else?