South Korea has begun blocking domestic access to a recently launched website operated by North Korea's state news agency. Internet users in South Korea had been able to access the website earlier this week, but as of Thursday attempts to connect are redirected to a National Police Agency page that warns the site's content is prohibited in South Korea.
The blocking isn't a surprise. About 30 websites with North Korean connections have been blocked for several years by the South Korean government. They include a similar site operated from Tokyo that, like the new site, carries news in English and Spanish from the official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA).
The existence of the new site was first reported by IDG News Service on October 9 and subsequently by South Korean media outlets. Those reports gave it a higher profile and likely led to it being added to the block list.
The new site is notable because it's the first to come online from within a block of IP addresses assigned to North Korea. The reclusive state had previously used foreign servers for its few websites but last year began working with Loxley Pacific to connect itself to the Internet.
While the actual location of the site is difficult to confirm, Internet tests point to it being operated from within North Korea. It's one of several moves North Korea has made onto the Internet in the last few months.
In early August the Korean-language news site Uriminzokkiri began posting links to its articles on Twitter. The site also started a companion YouTube channel with clips from North Korean state television and established a presence on Facebook and Flickr. The site's content is largely drawn from KCNA and state newspapers, and its social media push has proved more difficult for the South Korean government to block.
While a directly accessing the Uriminzokkiri Twitter or YouTube channels on the respective websites is blocked from South Korea, tweets can be seen through a third party client or via another user's retweets and the individual YouTube videos are available.