North Korea Launches Pilot Web Portal but Problems Linger


SEOUL — ; North Korea is testing its first Web portal but major glitches remain. Visitors can now visit the site to read the only news pages published by the tightly closed country's official media.

The English- and Korean-language Naenara ("My Country") site at is based in Germany and promised links to information on North Korean politics, tourism, and trade. It also offers links to North Korean official media and "real time" music and movies.

A poem from the Korean Central News Agency via the Naenera site: "Song of Gen. Kim Il Sung"

Tell, blizzards that rage in the wild   ;   ;   ;   ; Manchurian plains, Tell, you nights in forests deep   ;   ;   ;   ; where the silence reigns, Who is the partisan whose deeds

  ;   ;   ;   ; are unsurpassed? Who is the patriot whose fame   ;   ;   ;   ; shall ever last? So dear to all our hearts is   ;   ;   ;   ; our General's glorious name, Our own beloved Kim Il Sung

  ;   ;   ;   ; of undying fame.

The Web site is available in English and Korean and promises links to arts, culture, shopping, e-mail, Korean cuisine, and an ambiguous feature titled "Korea is One: Homogeneous Nation."

But the only features working are newsfeeds supplied by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), a mouthpiece of North Korean leader Kim Jong-il and his communist government, and features marking the 10th anniversary of the death of North Korea's founding president Kim Il Sung.

KCNA has been available on the Internet for about five years on the Japan-based site . Another North Korean site, , publishes Pyongyang views from China .

Reuters reported that the portal provides the North Korean telephone numbers of state trading companies offering products raging from "stylish dresses of fine workmanship" to ferrous and nonferrous metals.

The launch follows the start of online gambling run by the North two years ago and an online shopping mall in the South that sells goods imported from the North.

Naenara is located on a server based in Germany and was registered at the end of May, domain research service says. Contact telephone numbers provided for the site's Web master are based in North Korea, whose leader Kim is believed to be an avid Web surfer himself.


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