Friday, July 30, 2010

Yes, Empoprise-BI (and every blog) is de facto banned in North Korea

After finishing my post which discussed the fate of the unsuccessful North Korean World Cup team - think REALLY BAD meeting - I was about to write another post that compared the similarly-clad beer supporters in South Africa to the similarly-clad North Korean soccer fans in South Africa (some of the fans being Chinese who knew nothing about soccer but were sent to cheer North Korea anyway).

But then I figured that if I wrote the post, the Empoprise-BI blog would clearly be banned in North Korea.

Not that this worried me - I'm sure Empoprise-BI is banned in several countries already - but I began to wonder what type of access North Koreans had. I suspected it wasn't all that great, and (according to this 2006 article) I was right.

At a time when much of the world takes for granted a fat and growing network of digitized human knowledge, art, history, thought and debate, it is easy to forget just how much is being denied the people who live under the veil of darkness....

While other restrictive regimes have sought to find ways to limit the Internet — through filters and blocks and threats — North Korea has chosen to stay wholly off the grid.

But, as with everything in North Korea, there's a two-tier society.

As far back as 2000, at the conclusion of a visit to Pyongyang, Madeleine K. Albright, then secretary of state, bid Mr. Kim to “pick up the telephone any time,” to which the North Korean leader replied, “Please give me your e-mail address.”

Regarding web sites, a 2010 article discusses the present state of North Korea's web presence.

Since 2007, North Korea has been allocated the ccTLD .kp by the IANA – a wasteful allocation as only four .kp domains exist thus far....

North Korea hosts all four of its .kp domains outside of its land; in servers in Germany.

These four .kp domains belonging to North Korea are:

* The Korea Computer Center (Europe) with a message that .kp domain registrations are available
* The official North Korean governmental portal Naenara
* The North Korean domain registry
* A web site about becoming a “friend” of North Korea!

I visited the final site on the list, at, figuring that I might be able to get an autographed soccer jersey for cheap.

Now this whole idea of a technology and book fair sounded promising - after all, we know how North Korea is the movie capital of the world, so perhaps they're the technology capital of the world too. So I read the description:

7th Pyongyang International Science & Technology Book Fair

The 7th Pyongyang International Science & Technology Book Fair (PISTBF) will be held in Pyongyang, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, from the 13th to the 15th September in 2010

It is aimed at introducing and sharing the new scientific and technological successes achieved in the different countries of the world through the exchange of book and publication, thus strengthening relations of friendship and cooperation between the countries.

Thanks to the careful attention of the state and the government, the positive cooperation and efforts of the Organizing Committee of the PISTBF, Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, the State Academy of Science, Publishing Guidance Bureau, Grand People’s Study House, and the support of the universities, institutions of science and technology, and publishing houses from various countries, PISTBF has been held successfully for the last 9 years since its first inception in 2001 and made great contributions to the promotion of exchange and cooperation in science and technology, publishing industry and culture.

Strangely enough, the fair does not appear to be designed to promote the great advances in technology that have originated in North Korea. Instead, it appears that people from other countries will come to North Korea to share stuff.

The exhibitors will deal with copyright and make contract between the participants.

They can deliver lectures and have Seminars on science and technology during their stay. In that case papers should be presented to the Organizing Committee of PISTBF one month before the opening.

In fact, it seems that a lot of stuff has to be cleared in advance.

Exhibits Arrival Time: August 1 - 31, 2010

People who went to Reed College with me know that I appreciated this one:

Application deadline: June, 31, 2010

(For those of you who didn't attend Reed, suffice it to say that I put up posters on campus stating that subway construction would begin on the very-small campus on September 31, 1979. Geddit?)

Oh, and if you have ideas about going to the fair to engage in propaganda:

In accordance with the regulations of the PISTBF, materials not related to science and technology can not be displayed.

But that same restriction does not apply to your hosts.

The PISTBF Organizing Committee...will organize sightseeing to the scenic and historical places, performances, and provide 1st –aid, interpreter, room for lecture, seminar and interview, services in the Exhibition Hall free of charge.

Free first aid! Too bad that June 31st has already passed. But who is participating? A list of participants in the 7th conference has not yet been released, but there is a list of participants in the 1st through 6th conference - a who's who of technology, as it were.

* Korea Publications Export and Import Corporation
* Far Eastern National University, Russia
* Vladivostok National Medical University, Russia
* Far Eastern National University of Technology, Russia
* Amur State University of Humanities and Pedagogy, Russia
* Lenin National Library, Russia
* Library of Far Eastern Branch of Russia Academy of Sciences
* "Dalnauka" Publishing House, Far eastern Branch of Russia Academy of Sciences
* The State Public Scientific and Technical Library, Siberian Branch Russia Academy of Sciences
* Khavarovsk State University of Technology, Russia
* Pacific National University
* Russian Military Academy
* Siberian Institute of Law, Economics and Management, Russia
* Association for the promotion of the Cultural Development,China
* Books Import and Export Corporation, China
* Beijing Hongsanhua Trading Co.Ltd, China
* Liaoning National Publishing House, China
* Huayi Publishers, China
* Yantai University, China
* Dalian University, China
* Jilin University, China
* Jilin Province Yanji Xinhua Bookstore, China
* Jilin Province Songhuajiang Trade Co.Ltd, China
* Publishers's delegation in Jilin, China
* Jilin Newspaper Publishing House, China
* Samiun Trading Co.Ltd, China
* Sandong Hongye Group, China
* Academy of Social Science, Liaoning Province, China
* Yanbian Public Association for Foreign Relations, China
* Central Science Library, Ministry of Science and Education, Republic of Kazakhstan
* Springer Science and Business Media
* Springer-Verlag (HongKong) Ltd
* Organizing Committee, Frankfurt Book Fair
* German Academic and Technical Literature Agency
* Torun Publishing House, Poland
* EEMP, TVE International
* International Federation of Library Associations
* Pugwash Conference on Science and World Affairs
* Ankara University, Turkey
* State Central Library, Mongol
* Publishing Section, Division of Conference and Document Services, Management Dept. UN, Austria
* Swiss Agency of Development and Cooperation to DPRK
* Tokai University, Japan
* Unicorn Foundation
* American Friends Service Committee
* Canadian Program Coordinator of English Education
* Office of the WHO in the DPRK
* Office of UNICEF in the DPRK
* Embassy of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland in the DPRK
* Embassy of the Sweden in the DPRK
* Embassy of the Republic of Poland in the DPRK
* Embassy of the Republic of India in the DPRK
* Embassy of the Islamic Republic of Iran in the DPRK
* Embassy of the Republic of Indonesia in the DPRK
* Association of Korean Compatriots for Book Donation, US

Well, I guess that it would be wishful thinking to expect Samsung to be a featured exhibitor, but you have to wonder about the quality of the technological conversations that the American Friends Service Committee were holding in the past. Although I'm sure that the Russian Military Academy could produce some interesting presentations, should they choose to do so.

But, based on past fairs, it appears that a major task of the participants is to compose a letter to Kim Jong Il. They did so at the third fair:

Pyongyang, August 21 (KCNA) -- Leader Kim Jong Il today received a letter from the participants in the third Pyongyang International Science and Technology Book Fair. The letter said during their stay in the DPRK, the participants were deeply admired to learn that Kim Jong Il singled out science and technology as one of the three pillars for building a great prosperous powerful nation and has led the drive for its development.

Expressing strong admiration for Kim Jong Il who has wisely steered the work to develop science in the DPRK, possessed of profound knowledge of ultra-modern science and technology, the letter expressed belief that the DPRK would proudly rank itself among the world's scientifically and technologically advanced nations before long under the leadership of Kim Jong Il.

The letter expressed their intention to actively cooperate in the efforts to make the fair expand and develop on the world's level.

I'm trying to imaging something like that happening over here. Will we see this article in a couple of months?

San Francisco, September 23 (OTN) -- Leader Larry Ellison today received a letter from the participants in Oracle OpenWorld 2010. The letter said during their stay in San Francisco, the participants were deeply admired to learn that Larry Ellison singled out expansion of Oracle's stack as one of the three pillars for building a great prosperous powerful company and has led the drive for its development.

OK, perhaps Ellison likes power, and he likes to show off his boat, but I can't picture him donning the Elton John sunglasses. And he's obviously not going to impose a communication barrier between his company and the rest of the world. And to my knowledge, Ellison has never sunk a submarine.
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