Washington and Asian capitals took a serious approach to North Korea’s botched attempt to launch a rocket, which broke into pieces after just 90 seconds in the air Thursday. But many Internet users found humor in the failure:
On Twitter, the rocket was compared to Japan’s “Birdman Contest,” which features homemade flying machines. Dozens of memes were created poking fun at the authoritarian country’s mistake. Photos were edited to rib North Korea’s young new leader.
But it is unlikely that the jokes were seen inside North Korea, where few citizens have access to the Internet.
The Post’s Chico Harlan writes that after the launch, the North Korean government minders accompanying foreign journalists had to ask the journalists to relay information about what happened, because the journalists had Internet access and the minders didn’t.
North Korea has a public telephone network, but no broadband network.
Even if some North Koreans do have access to the Internet, government censors have close control over what people can and cannot see. In 2006, North Korea was ranked number one on the Committee to Protect Journalists list of the “10 Most Censored Countries.”
New Yorker reporter Barbara Demick found in researching a 2009 story that some North Koreans she interviewed had never heard of the Web.
Internet censorship does not extend to North Korea’s leaders or party elite. North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, who died in December, once said he loved surfing the net and described himself as “an Internet expert.”
It is unclear whether Kim’s son, Kim Jong Eun, shares the same passion. But it seems probable he would not enjoy the following poster:
Read about how North Korea explained the failure to its citizens here.