The Korea Herald


S. Korea to open N.K. info center

By 신혜인

Published : June 23, 2011 - 20:07

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South Korea said Thursday it is working on establishing a state-run open source-based center to consolidate scattered information on its reclusive northern rival.

The purported center, which will be fully open to government officials as well as the general public here, will gather and organize information that has already been made public by the media and international agencies, an official at the Unification Ministry said, asking not to be named until the plan becomes official.

“We have long noticed the fact that we often miss out on important information due to the lack of consolidated data,” the official said, comparing the envisioned center to “WikiLeaks.”

“Sometimes, foreign countries and international groups know more and secure information about North Korea faster,” he said. “We will be focusing on collecting information scattered on the Internet and social network services.”

South Korean intelligence officials have often been criticized for their seeming lack of information on North Korea and their heavy dependence on Chinese and American media reports and sources.

The National Intelligence Service, Seoul’s top spy agency, and other government agencies currently provide basic information on North Korea on their websites, but only on a limited basis.

The Kim Jong-il regime in Pyongyang only unveils information to the outside world in accordance with its own needs and keeps its 24 million population isolated from outside news largely for fear of rebellion.

Separated since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, the two Koreas have walked two very different paths that turned the capitalist Seoul into Asia’s fourth-largest economy and the communist, reclusive North into one of the world’s poorest countries.

The Unification Ministry, which specializes in affairs related to Pyongyang, seeks to connect the center’s information to a separate database that it has been building up since last year on North Korea’s industry, geography and people, the unnamed official said.

By Shin Hae-in (