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U.S. State Department Uses Twitter to Get North Korea's Attention

screenshot of p.j. crowley's tweet to north korea
While most other American officials struggle to substantially advance diplomatic relations with North Korea, State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley has decided to take a slightly different approach to cracking the North Korean nut: Twitter. As the New York Times reports, Crowley recently posted a series of pointed tweets about the eternally enigmatic Pyongyang regime, which only recently discovered the wonders that social networking has to offer. Whether or not the spokesman's words ever reach North Korean soil, however, is another matter altogether.

Crowley's tweets began hospitably enough ("We use Twitter to connect, to inform, and to debate. We welcome North #Korea to Twitter and the networked world."), but soon took a turn for the diplomatically critical. "The North Korean government has joined Twitter, but is it prepared to allow its citizens to be connected as well? #Korea," reads one of Crowley's tweets. Another, more philosophical missive asks, "North #Korea has joined #Facebook, but will it allow its citizens to belong? What is Facebook without friends?" Crowley also wrote, "Americans should heed our #travel warning and avoid North Korea. We only have a handful of former presidents," followed by a link to the Department of State's page on North Korean travel dangers.

The only problem, of course, is that North Korea apparently doesn't understand how Twitter works. Although more than 10,000 people are currently following Pyongyang's feed, the government, unlike Kanye West, has yet to follow a single other account. Sharp as they are, then, Crowley's tweets clearly aren't reaching their desired target.

Just because North Korea isn't listening to the rest of the world's tweets doesn't mean that it isn't using the platform to advance its own "diplomatic" agenda. According to the Wall Street Journal, most of the country's social networking operations are conducted from a China-based site called Uriminzokkiri, which regularly spews pro-Pyongyang propaganda. When the South Korean government decided to block the site's Facebook page, Twitter feed and YouTube channel within its borders, Uriminzokkiri struck back in a post to the site, calling South Korean president Lee Myung-bak's administration "a group of traitors against unification," and claiming that the regime clearly "does not want to improve inter-Korean relations or even wish for dialogue and cooperation." America's diplomatic tweets may be falling on selectively deaf ears, but North Korea's suggestively belligerent ones certainly seem to have a wide audience.

Tags: diplomacy, government, kim jong il, KimJongIl, korean, NorthKorea, SocialNetworking, SouthKorea, StateDepartment, top, twitter