After Google chairman Eric Schmidt and former NBA star Dennis Rodman, the notorious file-sharing site The Pirate Bay is claiming to be the latest unexpected visitor to Stalinist North Korea.
In a posting on its website, the Pirate Bay, which was ejected from Sweden last week, claimed it had sought “virtual sanctuary” in North Korea, apparently at the personal invitation of leader Kim Jong-Un.
“Today we can reveal that we have been invited by the leader of the republic of Korea, to fight our battles from their network,” the posting said.
The statement carried the website’s logo of a pirate ship, whose mainsail had been coloured in the design of North Korea’s national flag.
“It’s a country opening up and one thing is sure, they do not care about threats like others do,” it added.
The jocular tone of the post, and the mistake in referring to the “republic of Korea” — the formal name for South not North Korea — led some to suggest the website was playing a practical joke.
The blogging website North Korea Tech, said tracking Internet traffic from a PC to the Pirate Bay website did appear to show it flowing to North Korea’s Internet gateway point.
“What happens after that is unclear,” the website said Tuesday, adding that North Korea was unlikely to have the bandwidth volume needed by a site like The Pirate Bay.
The TorrentFreak website also found that The Pirate Bay was routing through a North Korean netblock, but suggested this was being used to hide Pirate Bay’s true location.
“The cloud servers behind it are still believed to be hosted elsewhere in the world,” it said.
Founded in 2003, The Pirate Bay — which boasts more than 30 million users — makes it possible to skirt copyright fees and share music, film and other files using bit torrent technology, or peer-to-peer links offered on the site.
It had hosted its website in Sweden for three years, before being forced out, and was believed to be looking at Norway and Spain as possible alternatives.
A domestic intranet was launched in North Korea in 2008, but is cut off from the rest of the world, allowing its very limited number of users to exchange state-approved information and little more.
Access to the full-blown Internet is for the super-elite only, meaning a few hundred people or maybe 1,000 at most, analysts estimate.