With over 500 million Facebook members across the world, some would argue it was only a matter of time before reclusive North Korea jumped into social media. Late last week North Korea reportedly opened a Facebook account, posting pictures of North Korean landscapes, a YouTube video and links criticizing South Korea.
The move to join Facebook is the North Korean's latest venture into the world of social media. In July they started their own YouTube channel, and last week they also reportedly started a Twitter account to promote North Korea.
Due to the lack of access for western media in North Korea, there has been no formal confirmation that these new social media sites are in fact coming directly from the North Korean government, but South Korea has already started blocking the content from the Twitter account, citing South Korean security laws. Facebook has already shut down the Facebook page twice for "violating terms of agreement."
Smith made two separate trips to North Korea in 2007, and was not only able to see the closed-off country first hand, but covertly filmed his travels for a documentary.
Smith describes his experiences in the country as surreal. "It's kind of like Disneyland for Maoist China or Stalinist Russia," he said.
Smith toured the cities and the countryside while in North Korea, and even was allowed to visit a school for the elite, something few foreigners have ever been allowed to see. In a country where few citizens are allowed access to any form of technology, from cell phones to the internet, Smith told Sy about visiting a computer class where all the students were using the latest computer technology, yet still were amazed when Smith showed them an iPod.
"When we showed them an iPod they didn't believe it, they thought it was some sort of trick," explained Smith.
But while most of North Korea is kept in the dark when it comes to things like technology and pop culture, the country's political leaders, especially Kim Jong-Il, use these tools as a means of communication.
"[Kim Jong-Il] is very savvy about pop culture and will do anything for his propoganda," said Smith.
Smith also says he won't be surprised if North Korea's Facebook and Twitter attempts gain some traction, due in large part to everyone's curiosity towards what Smith calls the "hermit kingdom."