Late Tuesday morning local time (shortly past Monday midnight on the East Coast), someone responsible for the tightly controlled internet in North Korea made some changes (maybe accidentally) to the servers in the country that briefly made the country’s internet open to all. And according to data compiled by Github researchers, who found and exposed it, the internet in the reclusive nation has all of 28 websites.
North Korea doesn’t exactly exist on the internet, since its citizens have no access to the internet as we know it, limited to only what the Kim Jong Un regime allows them to see, which as we now know is quite limited.
The technical explanation for what happened is best given by Github. “On Sept 19, 2016 at approximately 10:00PM (PDT), one of North Korea's top level nameservers was accidentally configured to allow global DNS zone transfers. This allows anyone who performs an AXFR (zone transfer) request to the country's ns2.kptc.kp nameserver to get a copy of the nation's top level DNS data. This was detected by the TL;DR Project - an effort to attempt zone transfers against all top level domain (TLD) nameservers every two hours and keep a running Github repo with the resulting data.”
According to the list of domains available to North Koreans for browsing, the websites are related to cooking, travel, news, a university, spirituality and films, among others. There also appears to be something akin to a social network, simply named “Friend.” While the websites were still available to outsiders, people took screenshots of the North Korean websites and shared them online for posterity.