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North Korean Government Joins Twitter, YouTube

A screen shot of North Korea's Twitter Account

North Korea has joined two popular social networking websites, using them to expand its propaganda against the South.

Using one of its government websites, Pyongyang announced that it now has accounts on Twitter and YouTube.

The Twitter account has acquired thousands of followers since it was established Thursday. It is not clear who they are, however, since most North Koreans are barred from using the site and the South has also blocked access.

South Korean officials have also reminded Internet users that it is illegal to communicate with the North.

South Korean newspapers reported Wednesday that the North's initial postings praised North Korean leader Kim Jong Il and slammed South Korea and the United States.

Nevertheless, the United States has welcomed North Korea to the global networks and urged Pyongyang to allow all its citizens use them.

State Department spokesman Philip Crowley used his own Twitter account to announce the U.S. position. He wrote, "We use Twitter to connect to inform and to debate. We welcome North Korea to the networked world, but is it prepared to allow its citizens to be connected as well?"

The YouTube and Twitter campaigns are seen as North Korean retaliation against South Korean radio broadcasts criticizing the Pyongyang regime.

Seoul began the broadcasts after an international probe concluded that North Korea torpedoed a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, on March 26. The North has dismissed the investigation's findings as a fabrication by South Korea and the United States.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.