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KCNA unveils renovated web site before Google head's trip

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Published : 2013-01-05 10:46
Updated : 2013-01-05 10:55

WASHINGTON -- Apparently, North Korea has something new to show off to Google chairman Eric Schmidt -- a renovated website for its main propaganda apparatus.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Friday unveiled the new version of its website, http://www.kcna.kp, hosted on servers in Pyongyang.

It features a much better design and many sophisticated functions, including link services among text articles, photos and video clips.

It provides Korean, English, Chinese, Spanish and Japanese news services, and also has a search engine connected with article archives. But access to the KCNA's website is blocked in South Korea by security authorities in Seoul.

The official North Korean news agency serves as a major channel to deliver the secretive communist regime's important decisions and propaganda messages to the world.

North Korea, in which the flow of information is strictly controlled, launched a separate homepage for KCNA in October 2010.

KCNA had since made a few changes in its website design but the latest renovation is quite remarkable, observers said.

"They are getting closer to the look and functionality of mainstream Western websites; subject tabs on top, running scripts with important news headlines, scrolling video and photo galleries, segmented news sections, etc.," a long-time North Korean observer, told Yonhap News Agency.

The top of the website's main page is decorated with 26 various-sized photos linked to text and video news, including the successful launch of a long-range rocket in December and North Korean gold medalists in the London Olympics.

The streaming video has improved as well.

On the left side is a special section on activities by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and a special news section on the successful rocket launch is in the center.

The news menu is divided into latest news, politics, economy, world, science, health-education, sports, arts and the environment.

The observer, who asked not to be identified, added, "Pretty soon, outside observers will start seriously comparing the KCNA and Yonhap websites" as the information windows into the two nations to judge which one is more functional, sophisticated, stylish, and useful.

Indeed, North Korea's leader Kim, believed to be age 29 or 30, has openly stated his effort to focus on economic development of the impoverished nation, especially through science and information technology.

Some observers raise speculation that the upcoming visit by the Google boss to Pyongyang may be linked to Kim's initiative.

It remains uncertain how Schmidt will respond if he clicks on the KCNA's website. The Google chairman is planning a trip to Pyongyang as early as next week with former New Mexico Gov. and U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson.

(Yonhap News)

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