The Democratic People's Republic of Korea is a country in East Asia, located in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering South Korea and China. Its capital, Pyongyang, is the country's largest city by both land area and population. It is a single-party state led by the Korean Workers' Party (KWP), and governed by Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un since 2012. It has a population of 24,052,231 (UN-assisted DPRK census 2008) made up of Koreans and a smaller Chinese minority. Japan 'opened' Korea in 1876 and annexed it in 1910. The Republic of Korea (ROK) was founded with US support in the south in August 1948 and the Soviet-backed Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the north in September that year.
North Korea's state media erase almost entire online archives
Almost the entire database was wiped after the execution of leader's uncle
North Korea's state media have erased almost their entire online archives since the execution of Kim Jong-un's uncle and onetime mentor, Jang Song-thaek.
The removal of tens of thousands of articles is the largest deletion ever carried out by the official KCNA news agency and the Rodong newspaper.
Several reports mentioning Jang had already been edited to remove references to him and other aides, and footage had been cut so that it no longer included him.
But subsequently all articles from before October appear to been removed from KCNA's North Korea-hosted site. It is unclear whether they will be reposted at some point or have disappeared for good.
The mass deletion was spotted by NK News, a website covering North Korea. Frank Feinstein, a New Zealand-based programmer who tracks online media for NK News, told the site: "There were 35,000 articles dated September 2013 or earlier on KCNA in Korean. If they're leaving the odd one in, it's still a kill ratio of 98-99%."
Translations in English, Spanish, Chinese and Japanese were also deleted, he said. Another 20,000 articles had vanished from the archives of Rodong Sinmun.
"This is a calculated thing they've done," Feinstein said. "Across all sites, it means the order most likely came from above each individual agency."
Chad O'Carroll, founder of NK News, said the "Orwellian" deletions appeared to have been done between Friday and Saturday, following the selective editing and deletion of articles mentioning Jang, who was executed last week.
In the past there have been "20 or 30 articles that disappeared for no apparent reason, but nothing on this scale", he said. "It will be very interesting to see whether the deletion sticks."
Only a tiny proportion of North Koreans have access to the internet, meaning that the web archives were used primarily by those outside the country.
Internally, information is tightly controlled by the regime and revising documents is also common.
Andrei Lankov, an expert on North Korea, noted in his book The Real North Korea that when he lived in Pyongyang in the 1980s, "the authorities took care to isolate the populace not only from the foreign media but also from the official publications of earlier years".
He added: "All North Korean periodicals and a significant number of publications on social and political topics were regularly removed from common access libraries and could only be perused by people with special permission. … This rule was obviously introduced to ensure that the changes in the policy line of the regime would remain unnoticeable to the populace."
Additional reporting by Agence France-Presse