North Korea joins Facebook, South Korea bans its Twitter page

North Korea has set up a Facebook account, continuing its surprise expansion on the internet, which saw it set up Youtube and Twitter accounts aimed at promoting anti-US and South Korean propaganda.

The news came from South Korea’s Communications Standards Commission, which said today that the Pyongyang government set up a Facebook account with the name “uriminzokkiri”, a name it has also adopted on its Youtube account. It was forced to adopt just “uriminzok” for Twitter, since its preferred name was already chosen by someone else.

The South Korean Commission banned and blocked the North Korean Twitter page, which contains information that is illegal under South Korean law. The Twitter page has only been up around a week, posting over 50 tweets linking to the official Pyongyang government website, and garnering nearly 10,000 followers.

The Commission said that it banned the Twitter page because it contains content that “praises, promotes and glorifies” North Korea, which is deemed illegal under the National Security Law in South Korea. 

It remains to be seen if the Youtube page will also be removed, since it contains very similar information, but the Commission stated that it has no immediate plans to do so. It did hint that the Facebook page might be blocked, however, and said that it is currently verifying that it is run by the Pyongyang government.

At the time of writing the Facebook page describes itself as male, says it is interested in men, and is looking for networking. It currently has 65 friends and included a description which Google translated for us as: “Independent reunification and peace and prosperity of the country who wish to south, containing the doctor of overseas Koreans is Home.” One source corrected this to: “a page representing the intentions of North and South Koreas and compatriots abroad, who wish for peace, prosperity, and unification of our homeland.”

These recent moves to embrace the online world and social media follows the registration of 1,024 IP addresses in June, which had previously been held unused for a number of years. This gives a small elite of its 24 million citizens access to the Internet. The US welcomed North Korea’s burgeoning online presence, but challenged it to allow all of its citizens similar access, a challenge which will undoubtedly go unheeded.