Update Friday 1654KST: North Korean state media has, for the first time, acknowledged the downtime of all its websites, blaming the US for staging a cyber attack. The KCNA said: “ It is ridiculous, indeed, for the hostile forces to mount such virus attacks on the DPRK’s internet servers, much upset by the all-out action of its army and people to defend the sovereignty of the country and the nation. They are seriously mistaken if they think they can quell the DPRK’s voices of justice through such base acts. The U.S. and its allies should be held wholly accountable for the ensuing consequences.”
Update 1416EST: North Korean websites appear to be back OFFLINE again. The outage is again widespread, affecting multiple domains.
Update 1840KST: North Korean websites appear to be back online. The outage was widespread, but probably connected to routine maintenance, North Korea Tech’s Martyn William says.
SEOUL – North Korea has dramatically increased the number of fighter jets in its skies over the last few days, an unnamed government official told South Korean-based news agency Yonhap, and may have closed access to its limited internet from the outside.
“Flights of North Korean air force’s fighter jets and helicopters reached about 700 sorties on March 11,” the source said. South Korean sources often only reveal information to local media on the condition of anonymity.
All that was left now, was for North Korea to “unleash merciless retaliation” against ongoing U.S.-lead sanctions and war games, Yonhap reported, citing an official North Korean government statement.
North Korea has responded to on-going U.S.-South Korean war games by creating its own war-like atmosphere, the Seoul-based Daily NK reported. “Before the military exercises started on the 11th, orders were handed down telling us to raise the readiness posture one step from ‘combat mobilization,’” the North Hamkyung-based source told the online newspaper.
Meanwhile, attempts by NK NEWS from Washington D.C. and Seoul to ping websites hosted on North Korean .kp domains yielded no results since mid-morning local time (late evening EST). The official website of the KCNA, North Korea’s state media mouthpiece, timed-out when pinged from North America, South America and Europe. The sites are also unreachable from China, a reader told NK NEWS. The domain is based within North Korean territory.
“I can reach some resources, just not the web sites. I suspect it’s maintenance at the network level. At least, that’s what it looks like now,” Martyn Williams of the North Korea Tech blog told NK NEWS.
“There’s nothing to point to an issue other than something technical. Other North Korean media output, including domestic and international radio broadcasts and the KCNA wire service, are operating as normal,” said Williams.
North Korea’s steadily-updated YouTube account has not published any new content for 16 hours as of 1330KST (0030EST).
The inter-Korean hotline that crosses the DMZ was cut on Monday, so a blackout on media access from the outside would be in line with a recent lack in communications, provided the downtime is not related to a technical error.
North Korea has promised retaliation for ongoing U.S.-South Korean military exercises and recent UN sanctions following Pyongyang’s nuclear test last month. North Korea shelled a ROK military base on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in 2010 after Seoul refused to cease artillery exercises along the disputed maritime border. Two South Korean marines were killed in the attack, along with two civillians contracted to work on the small island marine base.
Exercise “Key Resolve”, the second stage of U.S. – ROK military exercises amid ongoing “Foal Eagle” joint-operation that sees some 10,000 South Korean forces training alongside 3,500 American personnel began on Monday. The drills are labelled as primarily defensive in nature, but North Korea views them as a threat to national security, and dress rehearsals for a full invasion of the DPRK.
Both Pyongyang and Seoul have labelled each other’s rhetoric as ‘provocative’, and their own military exercises as ‘defensive’. North Korea declared all peace agreements between Pyongyang and Seoul as ‘void’ last week.