For those wanting to step back a few years in web technology and content management, I am happy to announce that North Korea's official website is now open for public viewing at http://www.kcckp.net/external_e/. The best part of coming to the website is the great martial midi music (so 1980's) that greets you when you come to the site. Unfortunately, it does not loop and stops playing what I think me be a rendition of the North Korean National Anthem.

As a former usability specialist, I can declare North Korea's website FLASH-Free. They have paid close attention towards creating a clean and simple interface probably using the precepts of that other great web usability ultimate leader, Jakob Nielsen. A messy website is a non glorious website . No floating or blinking ads on this page¡­or in North Korea in general.

However, in order to read the contents of the site you need to register online with the North Korean government your personal details. If the very thought of this brings a chill to your heart then feel free to use the profile that I created so you can log in. I registered under the name George Bush with a user ID of bigchief and a password of ilovekorea. The funny thing is that when I got to the point where it asked for nationality, there was no choice to be American or the United States. There were many smaller African and Middle Eastern countries there, but no choice for the user to select USA. The closest choice was English which I guess is one of the countries that did not call North Korea one of the axises or axes of evil.

Browsing and exploring the site reminded me of some of the more "ironic" Scandinavian design sites on the web with stark clean lines and zen like minimalism¡­but with lots and lots of pictures of Kim Ill Sung. Overall, it's a good site with a lot of PR friendly images of North Korean people and countryside. However, I did note that when I clicked on the button labeled "Korea is One" the site linked to a 404 error, perhaps this is still under construction, planning and/or mass deployment on the DMZ.

This new site is a vast improvement over their previous web presence on the Korean Central News Agency from Japan at http://www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm which is mostly badly translated rantings against US aggression. However, for anyone following the news recently, the videogame war tactical simulation Ghost Recon 2 from French based Ubisoft, was recently used as proof by North Korea of US military desires to invade the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (N. Korea) since the plot involved North Korea invading China and having US Special forces being called in to save China with a covert insertion into the fatherland. Perhaps the French know something that we don't.

Overall, since visits into North Korea for westerners is not only rare but quite expensive, browsing and checking their websites is the next best thing to being there¡­it may actually be better than being there in fact.

Before you go, be aware that North Korea is accused by the US of trying to develop nuclear weapons, manufacturing narcotics and gambling sites. However, if you dig deep into the website section titled "IT Industry" you will find an even more troubling little blurb on what North Korea may be planning to unleash onto the world.

KCC regards it as its immediate target to reach the world level and to be competent in the world market in a few years in development of Linux-based operating system and applications, computer-aided high technology and services with its own core technology.

Can you picture Tux the Linux mascot with a pompadour?

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