Hermit Kingdom Linux, Giant Juche Rabbits, and the Dear Leader's Hennessey Problem


Warren Buffett and His Giant Korean Rabbit

Via the kids over at Digg, a wonderfully informative poster on the "craziest country the world," the Democratic Republic of North Korea. And while I knew about the plan to breed a species of giant rabbits that would feed the population and destroy class enemies, I was either unaware or attempted to forget that the Dear Leader was at one time the largest single importer of Hennessey in the world. He'll drink up all the Hennessey you got on your shelf, but just let him introduce himself

As the poster notes, it is an offense punishable by death for a North Korean comrade to "make an international phone call," a feat usually achieved by accessing a Chinese mobile network with a smuggled phone. And these aren't idle threats, as yesterday's Guardian makes depressingly clear:

A North Korean factory worker has been executed by firing squad for sneaking news out of the country on his illicit mobile phone, Seoul-based radio said today.

The armaments factory worker was accused of divulging the price of rice and other information on living conditions to a friend who had defected to South Korea years ago, Open Radio for North Korea reported.

The man, surnamed Chong, made calls to the defector using an illegal Chinese mobile phone, according to an unnamed North Korean security agency official cited by the report.

The execution took place by firing squad in late January in Hamhung, according to Open Radio for North Korea. The station broadcasts into North Korea, which tightly controls news.

The Diggers, it seems, are possessed with a mild case of Dear Leader obsession. See, for instance, this story (one of today's most Dugg) which explains that North Korea has developed its own Linux distribution (Screenshots available here). It includes a build of Firefox 3.6, incidentally, with which members of the political elite are allowed to access material passed on by former North Korean factory workers.