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N. Korean news agency apparently opens Web sites in English, Spanish

All Headlines 16:49 October 14, 2010

By Sam Kim

SEOUL, Oct. 14 (Yonhap) -- North Korea has apparently opened a Web site that carries its official news in both English and Spanish, the latest episode in its global propaganda offensive if confirmed.

The site, seen Thursday at http://175.45.179.68/, contained no phone numbers or e-mail links. Computer World, a U.S. magazine available on the Web, said the site was "the first to appear from among a group of 1,024 Internet addresses" reserved for North Korea.

The magazine did not cite sources, but the site is seen following the North's invitation of dozens of foreign reporters to Pyongyang on Sunday when the regime exposed its next leader, Kim Jong-un, to the bare eyes of the world media during an army parade.

The site, whose heading read "Korean Central News Agency" in both Korean and English, showed on the front page a photo of leader Kim Jong-il smiling beside Zhou Yongkang, a ranking Chinese politburo member. The two were standing on the reviewing stand at Kim Il-sung Square in Pyongyang to watch the parade.

The official news agency, closely monitored by North Korea observers for news and statements from the communist country, already has a Korean-language Web site that operates from Japan.

It is blocked from access by people in South Korea because of laws that ban North Korea's propaganda material. The two countries remain technically at war after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce.

Seen on the left section of the new Web site was a series of menus linked to the country's political, economic, cultural and other news pieces written in either English or Spanish.

The Spanish section of the Web site showed a painted portrait of a young Kim Jong-il in a military suit on the front page. Some of the links showed error messages.

In recent months, the impoverished North has expanded the use of the Internet, opening accounts on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Most of its posts contain rhetoric denouncing the United States and South Korea and praising its leadership.

samkim@yna.co.kr
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