INTERNATIONAL

North Korea Internet outage brings to the fore China-U.S. rift

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (centre) looking at a computer as he inspects a shelling drill of a long-range artillery sub-unit.— Photo: AFP

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (centre) looking at a computer as he inspects a shelling drill of a long-range artillery sub-unit.— Photo: AFP  

North Korea’s Internet collapse on Monday, following the threat by the United States that it would “respond proportionally,” in the aftermath of cyber-attack on Sony, has raised regional tensions that have embroiled Pyongyang, Washington and Beijing.

Internet was restored in North Korea on Tuesday after a total breakdown a day earlier — an event for which the United States is the prime suspect.

The targeting of North Korea’s cyber-infrastructure on a national scale follows accusations by FBI that Pyongyang masterminded the hacking of Sony Pictures Entertainment, which resulted in the excavation of company and employee details, which were stashed online.

The hackers’ angst was directed at the film The Interview , whose satirical plot included the assassination of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. In an interview with CNN on Sunday, President Barack Obama called the virtual strike an “act of cyber vandalism” rather than an “act of war.” Washington’s accusations have further embittered ties with North Korea, which has vehemently denied hacking Sony Pictures’ computers.

Geopolitical rifts

As it snowballs, the hacking incident is exposing geopolitical rifts over the Korean Peninsula. China, a long-time supporter of North Korea, has declined to endorse the U.S. perception that Pyongyang was behind the attack after it was approached by Washington for help in cracking the case.

China, through which North Korea’s Internet connections are routed, said quoting experts that there might be a number of possible technical explanations behind the attack, and it was still too early for Beijing to form any conclusion. Washington, the state-run People’s Daily said, has to provide tangible evidence.

The controversy over the hack tunnelled into a split in the United Nations Security Council between Washington and the Beijing-Moscow combine over North Korea’s human rights record.



Recommended for you