Fri, 18 Jun 2010 01:35:00 +0000

The other day, I was reading the official webpage of North Korea. And saw something so incredibly normal: contact information.

I thought, for sure, this e-mail address was fake — an attempt to show transparency, in hopes that no one would actually contact them.

But I just had to make sure, so I sent this e-mail:

To: Special Delegation -DPR of Korea
From: Alvin Chang
Dated: June 16, 2010, 3:02 p.m.


I visited your website and was fascinated by what I read. On this page, it says if a South Korean tries to visit North Korea, they are shot by U.S. troops. But I have not heard about this. So I was wondering if you, or someone else you know, can tell me if this has occurred in the past.

Thank you so much,


Holy crap, I just sent an e-mail to North Korea ...

To: Alvin Chang
From: Special Delegation -DPR of Korea
Dated: June 16, 2010, 3:26 p.m.

Dear Sir,

Yes it happened before when trying to cross the DMZ. But surely US will deny it. But anyone departing from South Korea can try to cross the heavily militarized DMZ area and experience it by himself. He will be shot from US or South Korean soldiers, and if he escapes the shooting, then will be captured and interrogated by our guards in the Northern side.

If they South Korean try to visit North Korea via a third country, then they are jailed when they return to Seoul.



This South Korea pastor was jailed in the past and will be jailed again as soon as he returns, under the National Security Law (Anti-Communist Law), created by the USA and still enforced in South Korea.

According to the law, people supporting communism or North Korea can be even executed.


Best regards,


22 minutes. That’s how long it took someone to respond. It’s taken days for small towns to respond to my e-mails; weeks for NYU; months for the U.S. government. But I e-mailed North Korea and I got a response in 22 minutes.

I need to write back ...

To: Special Delegation -DPR of Korea
From: Alvin Chang
Dated: June 16, 2010, 3:40 p.m.

Thank you for your prompt response.

So what happens if a North Korean citizen tries to cross the DMZ? Do the US or South Koreans shoot at those people too?

Also, I am curious: Are you based in North Korea or elsewhere?

Thank you so much. These are questions that are not answered clearly anywhere else.

Alvin Chang
913 244 5557

Crap! I forgot to take off my e-mail signature. I guess it’d be a cool story if North Korea called me. ... I hope they don't.

To: Alvin Chang
From: Special Delegation -DPR of Korea
Dated: June 16, 2010, 3:43 p.m.

Depends on the area.

If in the sea, normally they are captured by US/South Korean soldiers.

If by land via DMZ, shoot down after a first halt.

We are based in North Korea, but for international activities and internet connections have foreign bases in Thailand and Spain.

Best regards,


This guy is signing every e-mail “KFA” — Korean Friendship Association — so he’s obviously trying not to be personal. All I want to know is if he’s a North Korean, or a foreigner working for North Korea. He uses the “royal we” when talking about North Korea, so he could be a native. But he could also be one of their delegates -- my goodness, the pictures of these guys make them look like a criminal gang. And the Malta delegate is Ron Jeremy!

A quick IP-address check says he’s in Malaga, Spain, a big city in southern Spain that’s the birthplace of Pablo Picasso — and Antonio Banderas.

Time to ask some more questions.

To: Special Delegation -DPR of Korea
From: Alvin Chang
Dated: June 16, 2010, 3:57 p.m.

I heard on TV while watching the World Cup that North Koreans do not have cellular phones or internet access. Does the government prohibit these devices? If so, why are they not allowed? It would seem to be a useful device these days.

To: Alvin Chang
From: Special Delegation -DPR of Korea
Dated: June 16, 2010, 3:50 p.m.

Dear Sir,

Sorry but we cannot answer every question personally.

We have mobile phones in DPRK and INTRANET access.

Best regards,


That is such crap. First off, he said before that the KFA has foreign bases for the internet access!

But I guess he did say “INTRANET,” which connects computers within certain networks, but not necessarily to the internet. So maybe he’s saying that North Koreans have the technology to communicate with each other using computers. And even if those exist, civilians don’t have access to the computers or the internet. Why?

Also, reports from the country say that they have mobile phones — but only for top government officials and, possibly, an invisible mobile phone for the North Korean soccer coach. But some reports say civilians caught with mobile phones are executed.

This pisses me off. I don’t care that he can’t answer every question. I want him to answer mine:

To: Special Delegation -DPR of Korea
From: Alvin Chang
Dated: June 16, 2010, 4:04 p.m.

Yes, I know you have mobile phones and telecommunication access. But why do your citizens not have access?

I understand you cannot answer every question. So I only have one more question: Do you work for North Korea? I understand you are based in Spain. But how does one end up answering e-mails for the DPRK website?

One hour later, no response.

Two hours later, still nothing.

I feel like getting angry with this man, but I know it’s misdirected. I don’t know who to be angry at — I don’t know who to hold accountable. It’s frustrating, so frustrating.