WASHINGTON -- Apparently, North Korea hassomething new to show off to Google chairman Eric Schmidt -- arenovated website for its main propaganda apparatus.
The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Friday unveiled thenew version of its website, http://www.kcna.kp, hosted on serversin Pyongyang.
It features a much better design and many sophisticatedfunctions, including link services among text articles, photos andvideo clips.
It provides Korean, English, Chinese, Spanish and Japanese newsservices, and also has a search engine connected with articlearchives. But access to the KCNA's website is blocked in South Korea by security authorities in Seoul.
The official North Korean news agency serves as a major channelto deliver the secretive communist regime's important decisions andpropaganda messages to the world.
North Korea, in which the flow of information is strictlycontrolled, launched a separate homepage for KCNA in October 2010.
KCNA had since made a few changes in its website design but thelatest renovation is quite remarkable, observers said.
"They are getting closer to the look and functionality ofmainstream Western websites; subject tabs on top, running scriptswith important news headlines, scrolling video and photo galleries,segmented news sections, etc.," a long-time North Korean observer,told Yonhap News Agency.
The top of the website's main page is decorated with 26various-sized photos linked to text and video news, including thesuccessful launch of a long-range rocket in December and NorthKorean gold medalists in the London Olympics.
The streaming video has improved as well.
On the left side is a special section on activities by NorthKorean leader Kim Jong-un and a special news section on thesuccessful rocket launch is in the center.
The news menu is divided into latest news, politics, economy,world, science, health-education, sports, arts and the environment.
The observer, who asked not to be identified, added, "Prettysoon, outside observers will start seriously comparing the KCNA andYonhap websites" as the information windows into the two nations tojudge which one is more functional, sophisticated, stylish, and useful.
Indeed, North Korea's leader Kim, believed to be age 29 or 30,has openly stated his effort to focus on economic development ofthe impoverished nation, especially through science and information technology.
Some observers raise speculation that the upcoming visit by theGoogle boss to Pyongyang may be linked to Kim's initiative.
It remains uncertain how Schmidt will respond if he clicks onthe KCNA's website. The Google chairman is planning a trip toPyongyang as early as next week with former New Mexico Gov. and U.N. Ambassador Bill Richardson.