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N. Korea joins twitter fever to step up propaganda offensive

All Headlines 10:01 August 15, 2010

By Sam Kim

SEOUL, Aug. 15 (Yonhap) -- North Korea, one of the world's most reclusive nations, is now twittering.

Less than one month after the communist state started broadcasting propaganda clips on the global video-sharing site YouTube, North Korea opened an account on Thursday with Twitter Inc., the U.S. provider of a highly popular microblogging service.

The opening, announced Saturday on North Korea's official Web site Uriminzokkiri, comes as Pyongyang steps up its propaganda offensive to deny allegations that its Navy torpedoed a South Korean warship in March, killing 46 sailors.

The North's twitter account, which opened under the name uriminzok, or "our nation" in Korean, contained nine messages as of Sunday morning. Most of them had links to statements or interviews that denounce South Korea and the United States.

Twitter allows users to send texts up to 140 characters long, known as "tweets." Subscribers, or "followers," can choose to receive feeds via mobile phones or personal computers. Eight people were following uriminzok as of Sunday morning.

Last month, North Korea registered an account with YouTube, uploading clips that praise its leader Kim Jong-il and defend itself against accusations that it attacked the Cheonan warship.

Observers have taken note of North Korea's expanded use of the Internet for its propaganda offensive. In June, a North Korean woman believed to be an agent uploaded a clip praising the communist country on YouTube, drawing media attention here and abroad.

North Korea is also believed to be operating a unit dedicated to hacking foreign websites, including those of the United States and South Korea. Early this year, South Korea set up a cyber defense command to deal with such threats from the North.


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