UK TV and porn popular with North Korean torrent users

18 Aug 2014

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Despite the vast majority of North Korea’s citizens restricted from accessing the internet, IPs located within government buildings appear to be downloading UK TV and pornography.

The Telegraph reported that ScanEye, the group that monitors activity on the torrenting site BitTorrent, has shown 178 downloads have been made whose origins lie within Pyongyang’s secretive government buildings, in particular the Ministry for Metal, as well as the country’s International Communications Centre.

Among the content that has been downloaded are the video games Far Cry 3 and Angry Birds, and TV programmes Top Gear, The Martin Lewis Money Show and Britain’s Biggest Hoarders.

Illicit content that would, going by North Korea’s strict laws, lead to severe punishment by the authorities, has also been featured in the form of American and Japanese pornography.

Despite the linking of the IPs to these buildings, there are still arguments over who exactly is behind the downloads, or even if they are coming from North Korea at all, as they might be possible to route an IP through another location. This is something Ernesto Van Der Sar of the TorrentFreak blog does not believe, however.

“These IP addresses are registered to North Korea and there is no known Virtual Network Provider operating in that range. This makes it likely that the traffic is indeed originating from the area.”

Another potential source could be the very small number of tourists who are able to access the internet, for a fee, or even the North Korean people themselves, who attempt to find apartments near government buildings to gain access to Wi-Fi signals.

North Korea internet image via Shutterstock

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Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com