The Taliban's YouTube channel

Danger Room reports that the Taliban have finally embraced online video sharing and launched Istiqlal Media, an official YouTube channel. Terrorist media expert Evan Kohlman comments:

“The Taliban have really been latecomers to the world of online video, and their initial forays haven’t been terribly successful,” Kohlman tells Danger Room. While the group has used YouTube in an official capacity before, placing video of captured America soldier on the site, Kohlman says that the use of embedded YouTube video on their site is a first. In other words, the Taliban is actually more dinosaurish about social media than the Pentagon. Way to be Web 2.0, Mullah Omar!

So what finally pushed the Afghan insurgent group onto YouTube?  Bandwidth, Kohlman explains.

“Recent efforts to distribute high-resolution jihadi media in standard formats — RMVB, AVI, MPEG — have simply overloaded their web servers and exhausted their bandwidth.  Now, it appears that the Taliban webmasters have finally come around and recognized the merits of YouTube, using the U.S.-based service to test out directly embedding video into their sites.  By turning to YouTube, the Taliban gain a free, highly-reliable video broadcast service with the potential to reel in a vast, viral audience.”

And that's not the Taliban's only foray into Web 2.0. The "Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan" Website allows readers to share posts via Twitter, Facebook, Digg, and other social networking services. 

The YouTube channel isn't much right now. Just a few non-narrated montages of car bombings and gun battles set to music (Judging from the soundtrack, the Taliban has also embraced auto-tuning.) But it will be interesting to see if YouTube moves to shut it down. 


SKM seeks NKF

The Financial Times reports on a new cottage industry in Korea -- matchmaking services pairing South Korean men with women who defect from North Korea:

Defying the gloom among small businesses in South Korea, Mr Hong predicts a rosy future for his enterprise, run from a small office in the suburbs of Seoul. Driven by a haemorrhaging economy, defections from the authoritarian North are soaring, and the overwhelming majority of asylum seekers are women. Of the 2,809 defections registered last year – up from 1,043 in 2001 – 2,197 were women.

In 2006 Mr Hong was the second South Korean to open a specialist agency finding husbands for them, but his niche market is exploding. The 39-year-old has identified 10 competitors, most of them established last year.

Mr Hong’s own match certainly lends credibility to his business. His wife, Kang Ok-shil, defected from North Korea in 2002 and has a crucial foothold in defectors’ social networks. They have named their agency Nam-nam-buk-kyo, an ancient adage meaning “the south’s got the boys, the north’s got the girls”.

Mrs Kang, a 41-year-old former electrical worker, says many North Korean women see South Korean men as less domineering. “North Korean men are more authoritarian. North Korean men have the perception that men are the sky and women are the ground,” she says, quoting a famous Korean aphorism.

South Korea’s unification ministry offers less romantic reasons for the disparity. The men in the North are trapped in military service, often for 10 years or more. Women become the breadwinners and are increasingly involved in cross-border trading, presenting opportunities to defect. Many women are also trafficked into prostitution and hostess bars.

While South Korea has a skyrocketing divorce rate, the company claims that almost none of the marriages they have arranged have broken up. They attribute this to the fact that “North Korean women are more persevering."