In yesterday’s New York Times, Tom Zeller writes about Internet access in North Korea, touching on their almost non-existent web presence. Among the tiny handful of official sites mentioned is the Korea Computer Centre’s Naenara (or “My Country”) — the nation’s official portal. Hosted in Germany and translated into a number of languages, it’s a very entertaining glimpse into the public exterior of the DPRK.
In addition to being a mouthpiece for national propaganda and a free e-mail provider, they also have an unusual and quirky web-based store. Aside from the usual books, CDs, and software (?), they offer an entire section of both cell phone ringtones (“handphone melodies”) and wallpaper (“characters”). (Cell phones are banned in North Korea, so these must be designed for sympathizers outside of the country.)
The wallpapers section is particularly good. For only US$0.50, you could have an animated caricature of George W. Bush as a panting dog with American flag necktie. Or head to page two for delightful animations of burning American flags, giant fists crushing the White House, or what appears to be an American soldier with a missile embedded in his chest, sulking dejectedly to a graveyard. They take Mastercard and Visa, so buy now!
I couldn’t read the ringtone pages, but let me know if one of them has the melodious voice of Kim Jong Il. (I’d take that over Fergie any day.)
Oh, and they have really, really great error messages. If you try to link directly to any of their images (like this one), you get this error: “You are fool!”