By Horace Lu
Has Sina Weibo, China’s most popular Twitter clone, become the battlefield between North and South Korea?
On March 7, a pro-DPRK account by the name of “Today Korea” (今日朝鲜) created a huge splash on Weibo with the first tweet saying, “@TodayKorea officially starts its account today. Sorry, but we don’t follow anyone.”
There is no way to verify whether this account belongs to the North Korean government since it has openly said it would not go through Sina’s authentication process. However, one international studies expert tells the Southern Daily that the account is very likely to be a spoof since there are several inconsistencies in its tweets.
With more than 50,000 fans already, the account tweets predictably enough about the happy lives of the North Korean people. On International Women’s Day (that’s yesterday), it not only sent its best wishes to Chinese women and also paid acknowlegements after it noticed that “many Chinese comrades have realized the charm of our DPRK women.”
The microblog account also spares no effort in condemning the South Korean government. According to one tweet, a camp of North Korean soldiers is “desperately waiting for the order to attack.“ The soldiers are said to have the utmost hatred towards “the provokers who dare to blaspheme against the supreme dignity of North Korea” and are “hyper-excited to immediately dump bullets and bombs” to South Korean President Palace Chungwadae and the stronghold of Inchon.
Apart from these, the account also tweets news related to Kim Jong-un’s activites and Juche idea.
A supposedly official account set up by North Korea’s Rodong Sinmun has also started tweeting in Chinese, Korean and English. It also has refused to go through the authentication process, “because we have to follow others in order to get V, which is against our principle.”
Meanwhile, a pro-ROK account has emerged, seemingly in response to these two pro-DPRK accounts. “Democratic ROK” (民主韩国) says it was “forced to open this account by @TodayKorea,” warning @TodayKorea not to hurl insults towards President Lee Myungbak and promises not to launch any positive attack against North Korea.
The account’s third tweet says “Kim Jong-un’s populist policy is nothing but a joke.”
In contrast to @TodayKorea’s army of over 50,000 followers, only more than 10,000 are now following @DemocraticROK. Just like the two accounts supposedly from North Korea, @DemocraticROK has also said it would not seek verification for its account because “for some reasons known to all, this account may be here today but may disappear tomorrow.” It also added it would follow people like Fang Zhouzi, Sister Feng, Han Han, Li Chengpeng, Yao Chen, and the United Nations..
Along with @DemocraticROK, an account alleged to be the official account of the South Korean government was set up on March 8. Unverifiable just like its rivals in the North, the account mainly tweets on a variety of topics including North Korean food shortages and defectors, South Korean efforts in the reunion and headlines of South Korean newspapers.
The tone of the government account is much milder except perhaps for one tweet that reads “North Korea’s Kim Jong-un government has been profaning President Lee Myungbak and committed military provocations putting Korean people’s lives at risk. People in our country will not be hesitant to fight a war.”
Update: Xinhua News Agency has confirmed that @TodayKorea has nothing to do with Korean Central News Agency. A weibo account in the name of the North Korean state news agency claims that @TodayKorea and @DemocraticROK are both parodies and belong to the same person.
Xinhua has also confirmed that @DemocraticROK is not connected with South Korean government. @DemocraticROK has now been closed, while @TodayKorea still exists.
The alleged official account of Rodong Sinmum has deleted all English and Korean tweets as well as the tweet about its verification.
A new player has joined the weibo Korean war: @SeoulNews (首尔新闻)