Satirist, not Pyongyang, behind North Korean Twitter feed


June 18, 2010 Updated Aug 24, 2009 at 1:32 PM EDT

No, Kim Jong-Il is not on Twitter. A Twitter account which styles itself as that of the Pyongyang-based Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) is actually the work of an unknown individual who bills himself or herself as a "satirist and journalist."

The account, @kcna_dprk, has been online since April and has attracted more than 4,500 followers.

It spews out a daily stream of links to stories from KCNA -- "U.S.-South Korea Joint Military Exercises Blasted" and "Day of Korea's Liberation Marked by Koreans in Kyrgyzstan" were among Monday's items.

The stories themselves are authentic, plucked from the KCNA newswire, but the Twitter feed is not affiliated with the official North Korean news agency.

In a direct message exchange on Twitter with AFP, the author of the account first replied -- tongue-in-cheek -- that the @kcna_dprk feed was published by the "Korean Friendship Association of Sao Tome and Principe."

Pressed further, the author said: "I'm satirist and journalist and I write for many magazines."

South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported earlier this year the account was produced by "unofficial activists" with media rights group Reporters Sans Frontiers and stupidedia.org, a German satirical Wikipedia-style website.

The Paris-based RSF, however, categorically denied any involvement with the account and the author told AFP on Twitter: "I'm not from stupidedia.org, but I wrote 4 article for this wiki."

Twitter, which recently began implementing a system of "verified accounts" after a spate of impersonation cases, did not respond to repeated queries from AFP about the @kcna_dprk account.

Impersonation has been a bane for the San Francisco-based micro-blogging service, which earlier this year suspended a bogus account claiming to be that of the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Dalai Lama.

While the North Korean leader may not have an official presence on Twitter, there is a fake account in his name -- @the_kim_jong_il.

Among the latest pronouncements from the faux Kim? "I can make love better than James Bond," and "Loyal patriots must be prepared to die for the leader."

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