North Korea rejoins the world of the Internet

Call it the case of North Korea’s disappearing Internet country code.

After its German partner, KCC Europe, allowed North Korea’s .kp country code to go dormant for several months, the country ditched the Germans and assigned responsibility of the country’s top-level domain to Star Joint Venture, writes Network World’s Martyn Williams.

Star JV has the blessing of Pyongyang officials to operate as a government-sponsored North Korean-Thai company. After the previous fiasco, North Korea is keeping this company closer to home. According to the "North Korea Tech" blog, the primary contact for Star JV, Kang Yong Su, will be based in North Korea.

North Korea outsourced management of the .kp top-level domain to KCC Europe, founded by Jan Holtermann, after the Internet Assigned Numbers Authority (IANA) assigned the code to the Korea Computer Center, Williams wrote. Holtermann had a history with North Korea that extended several years. According to a BBC article by Lucy Jones in April 2004, Holtermann sought to tap North Korea's computer brainpower by extending Internet access to the country.

As part of Holtermann’s investment in North Korea, KCC Europe extended a satellite link to the company’s Internet servers in Berlin, according to a Newsweek report in October 2004. Who knows what happened in 2010 — no media sources seem to be able to contact anyone from the company — but Holtermann and KCC Europe went off the grid, at least as far as North Korea is concerned.

According to an IANA report cited by Williams, the company’s servers supporting the .kp top-level domain failed, and the Korea Computer Center could not reach the company despite repeated attempts.

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