A look at history shows that relations between North Korea and South Korea have been strained severely ever since the two countries formed in 1948. Traditionally, both countries existed as a single peninsula that had been occupied by Japan between the years 1910 and 1945. After the fall of the Japanese empire in 1945, the Korean peninsula was divided into two, with the Soviet Union occupying the Northern Territory and the United States occupying the South. The two territories were divided by a line referred to as the 38th Parallel North.
In 1948, North Korea, and South Korea declared themselves republics separately. In 1950, heightened cold war tensions led to a full-blown war between North Korea and South Korea. The war had the United Nations and the United States fighting for South Korea and China and The Soviet Union fighting for North Korea. The war would eventually end in 1953 after an Armistice agreement signed by the United Nations, China, and North Korea.
Since the end of the Korean War in 1953, tensions between North Korea and South Korea were heightened. The 21st century has seen worsening relations between North Korea and South Korea with both sides trying to win the hearts and minds of the world through propaganda. South Korea has launched a series of claims against North Korea. These include North Korean abductions of South Koreans, North Korea launching a satellite with the intention to create war and claims of North Korean Spies in the Blue House.
From the 1950’s North Korea has continuously provoked South Korea and on many occasions has been accused of destabilizing the region. Confrontations between the two countries have almost always been of a military nature. However, recent revelations from South Korea seem to indicate that North Korea’s regime is adopting new tactics to hit at its southern neighbors.
In September 2015, South Korea accused North Korea of using online gambling to fuel the Korean Conflict by distributing software that enabled users to operate illegal online gambling sites in other countries targeting South Koreans. South Korea’s leading Newspaper Dong A-Libo revealed that South Korea had discovered a covertly planted program referred to as ‘Poker Game server’ that compiled online gambling traffic information. South Korea claims that it traced the program to the I.P address 175.45.175, an address it links to the North Korean Intelligence Bureau.
South Korea accused North Korea of using this program to paralyze financial activities in South Korea. It says North Korean Intelligence Bureau had paralyzed computer networks of three of South Korean Broadcasters identified as KBS, MBC, and YTN. South Korea also claimed that North Korea had previously paralyzed networks of three of its banks, which include Shinhan, NongHyup and Jeju Banks. It said that this program was active since August 2013 and had been used continuously in a series of cyber attacks against South Korea.
South Korean white hat hackers reported that North Korea had earned enormous amounts of money through the Poker Game Server. It was suspected that North Korea made money by operating these illegal gambling sites by itself or by selling the software to several South Korean organized crime rings.
North Korea’s Continuous Violation of International Law
The raging question on the minds of many is whether North Korea is capable of launching cyber attacks against South Korea. The answer is a simple yes. North Korea is well known to be among the most radical states in the world. The Kim dynasty seems to have a knack for military provocation even amid sanctions from the West. The North Korean government works to entrench a mass culture of hatred, against its enemies and their allies, in the people of North Korea.
The international community well knows North Korea’s involvement in criminal activities such as trafficking, smuggling, and counterfeiting. North Korea uses its inherent sovereignty to protect people in its government that carry out illegal activities defying international law. The Kim government uses money acquired illegally to sustain the country’s military machinery, to sustain the lifestyle of the presidency and to reward senior government officials loyal to the regime.
The use of an illegal online gambling platform is therefore not only a political weapon, but is also a criminal syndicate to enrich the North Korean regime. The motive behind North Korea’s involvement in this syndicate is to take advantage of South Korean people’s willingness to gamble despite state restrictions and at the same time cripple the economy of its largest adversary.
Internet Use in South Korea Heavily Censored
South Korea is ranked a world leader in terms of technology and boasts the highest penetration of internet use in the world. However, internet use in South Korea is heavily censored and is at best described as ‘partly free’. In 2014, the South Korean government deleted approximately 25,000 websites and blocked more than 60,000. The Korean Communication Standards Commission is a government (KCSC) body charged with inspecting websites and placing requests for their deletion. They try to find fault and will not hesitate to take action when convinced to have found what they wanted.
In South Korea, online gambling, prostitution, and pornography are illegal. Also, access to websites originating from North Korea and its sympathizers are blocked. These include state newspapers, news, and even Twitter handles. Children under the age of sixteen are not allowed to access gaming site between midnight and 6am. Taking maps out of South Korea is illegal since the country is still at war with North Korea. In effect, Google and other mapping data websites cannot process South Korean maps. Due to its heavy sanctions against its South Korean citizens who violate the law regarding internet use, the United Nations declared in the year 2010 that the Korean Communication Standards Commission was a ‘Censorship Body’.