North Korea joins Facebook after Twitter propaganda
North Korea has joined social networking site Facebook after its foray into Twitter sparked a new online tug-of-war with South Korea.
The North’s Facebook profile, seen Friday at facebook.com/uriminzokkiri, showed that the secretive communist country had opened its account on the website on Thursday night.
Shortly after 1200 GMT North Korea had 51 Facebook friends, mostly ethnic Koreans, and featured at least 83 posts of pictures, video footages and wallposts.
Its link was posted on the North’s Twitter, which was opened last week under the name @uriminzok, to post links to stinging anti-Seoul and anti-US statements carried on its Uriminzokkiri website (www.uriminzokkiri.com).
The North’s Twitter prompted a game of online cat-and-mouse with Seoul, which has struggled to stop its citizens following links to Pyongyang’s official propaganda website.
Under South Korea’s anti-communist National Security Law, South Koreans are prohibited from unauthorised communication with North Koreans and offenders can be jailed.
The South blocked direct access to the North’s Twitter account Thursday, but followers can still view recent messages through feeds or automatic updates sent to their own accounts.
Seoul has warned South Korean web users they face punishment for seeking to “reply” and “retweet” on the North Korean Twitter page, but the North’s number of Twitter followers has increased rapidly, to more than 9,200 on Friday.
Pyongyang has also posted the full statements from the Uriminzokkiri (“With us Koreans”) website on its new Facebook account, which is not blocked in South Korea, so that users there can still read the full content.
Facebook is more expansive than Twitter as it allows users to upload a wide variety of multimedia contents and share them with “friends.”
The North’s Facebook wallposts — messages posted by the page’s owner — contain statements from the North’s foreign ministry, while photos and video footages include the country’s landscapes and propaganda, all in Korean.
Some friends were seen having “liked” some posts, an expression that users can use to mark their favorite posts.
The North’s Facebook account introduces itself as “A page that contains wishes of North Koreans, South Koreans and Koreans living abroad for unification, peace and prosperity.”
Last month, the North launched its own channel on popular video-sharing website YouTube, uploading clips praising leader Kim Jong-Il and denying it had played a role in the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean warship, in March.
The North is believed to have an elite unit of hackers, but few of its citizens have access to a computer, let alone the Internet.
The North’s online propaganda comes amid high tensions on the Korean peninsula after the North’s alleged torpedoing of the Cheonan.