North Korea Has yet to Notice It Got Cyber-Pranked on April Fools Day

Updated | A self-described “hacktivist“ at war with North Korea in cyberspace has pulled a prank on one of the country’s propaganda websites, which has yet to fix the mischief.

The China-based website ournation-school.com, which is run by a North Korean state-controlled group, presents itself as an online academy to teach web users about the Juche ideology—the country’s guiding principles of self-reliance as indicated by its founder Kim Il Sung. The site has been linking to a spoof Twitter account for nearly two weeks.

The website creators included a Twitter logo on the page, but forgot to link it to its Twitter account, @Juche_School. When Cyber Anakin made the discovery, it was too much of a good opportunity to pass up. 

“The username was available for hijacking! Immediately I exploited the opportunity,” the hacktivist described in a blog post published on March 31 titled “North Korean website Ournation-school.com and an April Fool’s prank.”

Cyber Anakin created the @juche_school1 Twitter handle and named the account “Bloody Rocket Kim.” As one may expect, the Twitter account is anything but deferential to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The tweet pinned to the top of the account shows a "wanted" poster featuring Kim's caricature that had previously been used in an anonymous hacking of North Korea's official Flickr and Twitter accounts in April 2013.

04_12_Kim Jong un Parody A tablet with one of the pictures posted by anonymous hackers in the official North Korean Flickr account is seen in this photo illustration taken in Singapore April 5, 2013. Some of the pictures in the Flickr account were replaced by a caricature of North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un as "Pigsy" from the classic Chinese novel "Journey to the West". The same picture was pinned to the top of a spoof Twitter account linked to a North Korean propaganda website on March 31, 2018. Pablo Sanchez/Reuters

Cyber Anakin promised that the spoof account would not just be an April Fools prank. “I'm pranking that bloody rocket kim as long as I wish,” he wrote.

But all of the account’s 60 tweets were written on either March 31 and April 3, and it has only gathered 5 followers since it was created nearly two weeks ago. The North Korean website administrators also seem to have failed to note the prank—the link to the @juche_school1 Twitter account remains active as of April 12, even after the website North Korea Tech, which is affiliated with the U.S.-based North Korean monitoring website 38 North, reported about it last week.

The hacktivist resumed tweeting from the @juche_school1 account after the BBC and Newsweek reported about it on Thursday. One of the tweets is dedicated to Megumi Yokota, a Japanese woman who was kidnapped and brought to North Korea as a teenager whose parents met President Donald Trump when he travelled to Japan in November.

"The North Korean abductions issue must be on the agenda of the upcoming Trump-Kim summit," he told Newsweek on Friday.

Cyber Anakin “declared war against China and North Korea in cyberspace” following the assassination of Kim Jong Un’s half brother Kim Jong Nam in Malaysia in February 2017. “I hereby declare that the servers and entities of China and North Korea is now included into a target list for my black hat hacktivist/cyberwarfare campaign” the hacktivist wrote in a Reddit post he later linked to his blog.

“Why China? They abetted and aided the NK dictatorship, they even send back refugees from NK. Period,” he added.  

Cyber Anakin, who was described as a “teenage hacker” in a 2016 profile published on Motherboard, has also targeted Russian websites picked at random following the downing of the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over Ukraine in 2014, which killed all 298 people on board and that Dutch investigators have blamed on a Russian missile.

This article has been updated with a comment from Cyber Anakin.

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