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Social media wrap: North Korea joins other reclusive, self-obsessives on Twitter

August 18, 2010 |  8:20 am


It’s famously reclusive, self-serving and occasionally belligerent, so finding that North Korea has joined millions of others like it on Twitter is perhaps not as surprising as it seems. 

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs Philip J. Crowley on Tuesday welcomed North Korea to the social media network, labeling the country the “Hermit Kingdom” that finally may have emerged from its shell.

Posting messages under the user name “Uriminzok,” which means “our people,” and giving its location as Pyonyang,  the communist country’s account is linked to the website of the state-run Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea.    

Twitter accounts purporting to be from North Korea litter Twitter -- even though the nation blocks Internet access to almost all of its some 24 million citizens -- but this one has gained authentication from Crowley’s posts welcoming NK to the site. 

He tweeted:

The Hermit Kingdom will not change overnight, but technology once introduced can't be shut down. Just ask #Iran. #Korea 

and then he added....

...North Korean government has joined Twitter, but is it prepared to allow its citizens to be connected as well?   

Since launching Aug. 12, the page has gained more than 5,000 followers, many based in Seoul, South Korea. 

The South Korean government on Tuesday warned its citizens against posting messages on the North Korean account, saying that they may violate laws banning all communication with its northerly neighbor, Bloomberg reports

Twitter is banned in China and Pakistan, and Iran threatened a crackdown on the service following its citizens’ widespread use of the network last year to spread revolutionary protests internally and broadcast their outcomes internationally.

North Korea joined YouTube in July, posting more than 80 videos, many of them accusing South Korea of war-mongering.

The two nations officially have been on a war footing since the division of the peninsula after the Korean War armistice of 1953. The two nations currently are locked in a dispute over the sinking of a South Korean ship earlier this year. 

North Korea’s first tweet, posted Aug. 12,  read: 웹싸이트 "우리민족끼리" 트위터 계정입니다.  (which loosely translated means "Our nation is on the Twitter web site").

The English version of the committee’s website contains mainly heavily propagandized articles saluting its dear leader Kim Jong Il, including the headlines “Aphorisms of a Great Man,”  “Full of Confidence in Victory,” and “Floral Baskets and Congratulations to Kim Jong Il.”

It may have emerged from its shell, but which way North Korea’s head is looking remains to be seen.  Don’t watch this space.

-- Craig Howie

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Image: Twitter