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North Korea¡¯s informationization index

Posted September. 27, 2000 20:21,   


As North Korea requested the South to offer 1,000 computers for finding separated families at the inter-Korean Red Cross talks, the informationization index of the North is attracting more and more attention.

The reference submitted to Rep. Kim Deog-Ryong Wednesday for the parliamentary inspection of state affairs from the Unification Ministry revealed that e-mail has spread in North Korea since 1997.

According to the data, North Korea has provided e-mail services through an integrated wide-area computer network, which was launched with the establishment of a remote search system at an invention bureau in the Academy of Sciences on June 1997. Pyongyang named the e-mail service ¡®Hyeseong.¡¯

Also, the North had made the second-generation computer, ¡®Yongnamsan I¡¯ in the end of 1970s, but has met severe difficulties in introducing advanced computers largely due to deteriorated economic situation, coupled with the politically-imposed restrictions of trade in technology (according to the so-called COCOM list of sensitive goods).

Currently, there is a computer assembly plant with annual production capacity of 30,000 units in Pyongyang, of which operation has not gone smoothly because of lack of components. Therefore, for cutting-edge computers, North Korea depends on imports from China and Chochongnyon (pro-Pyongyang Chongryon federation) in Japan. In the North, computers are used mainly by special government authorities and other organizations, with individuals rarely holding computers.

Kong Jong-Sik kong@donga.com