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  • 08.18.10

U.S. Talking to North Korea – On Twitter

Can international diplomacy be conducted 140 characters at a time? These early attempts don’t look too promising.

U.S. Talking to North Korea – On Twitter
DMZ Twitter

North Korea and the U.S. are finally talking … on Twitter.

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The reclusive rogue state opened its first Twitter account, @uriminzok, which means “our people,” earlier this week. The tweets were about as interesting as you’d expect from a ministry of propoganda: “Let’s welcome the Party Leader Forum with open arms,” is how one recent tweet translates. The most notable missive from @uriminzok’s first week is its denial of accusations that North Korea torpedoed a South Korean warship back in March.

Then on Tuesday, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for Public Affairs, Philip Crowley, started engaging North Korea on his Twitter feed. His first tweet on the subject was innocuous enough: “We use Twitter to connect, to inform, and to debate. We welcome North #Korea to Twitter and the networked world.”

Since then, Crowley has turned on the heat:

“The Hermit Kingdom will not change overnight, but technology once introduced can’t be shut down. Just ask #Iran. #Korea

“The North Korean government has joined Twitter, but is it prepared to allow its citizens to be connected as well? #Korea

Finally, yesterday, the top diplomat got up in North Korea’s grill:

“North #Korea calls South Korea’s reunification plan – and freedom and prosperity it represents – “ridiculous”? How ridiculous is that?”

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So far, this is something of a one-sided Twitwar. North Korea has not acknowledged Crowley’s tweets. But it has started talking up a new movie on its YouTube channel, the title of which translates roughly to “Country Music, People, O Screen Future Ahead.”

So congratulations to the hermit kingdom on its first piece of social media marketing. We can’t wait to see the State Department’s Twitter review.

About the author

Jenara is an overseas reporter for Fast Company and a freelance writer/producer in Asia, regularly on CNNGo, and a graduate of Harvard and UC Berkeley.

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