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In the ongoing international spat over which country deploys the most evil cyber hackers, North Korea is lobbing accusations that the United States and South Korea took down the nation's webservers. On Wednesday, there were reports that the country's entire internet service had been taken down, and now the North's official media arm says their enemies are too blame

"It is nobody’s secret that the U.S. and South Korean puppet regime are massively bolstering up cyber forces in a bid to intensify the subversive activities and sabotages against the DPRK."

There actually is evidence that Pyongyang's servers were hacked, at least according the Thailand-based company that hosts them. But some experts say that China is the more likely culprit, since they would have more knowledge of the North's online infrastructure. 

Then again, the head of the National Security Agency did say earlier this week that the Pentagon has 13 teams dedicated to "offensive" attacks that "defend the nation," if that makes any sense to you. Everyone—China, America, Russia, Iran, South Korea, and the North—have the capability and the motive to launch attacks on each other, so nobody's hands are ever truly clean in these matters. 

The real irony of the North Koreans complaining about internet attacks is that for people living in North Korea, the interent barely exits. Censorship of all media is so restrictive that the few citizens who do have connected computers can only access what is essentially a country-wide Intranet that does not connect to the larger World Wide Web. Only a small number of Northern elites have access to the Web, and even they are under tight controls that keep information from the outside world at bay. (Also, on every webpage, the words Kim Jong-un must appear slightly larger than all surrounding text.) So even if the Americans were guilty of shutting down the North Korean web, how would anyone in North Korea even know it?

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.

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