North Korea news websites erase articles: Media tracker

SEOUL (AFP) - North Korea's state news outlets have erased tens of thousands of articles archived on their websites following the execution of leader Kim Jong Un's uncle, according to a watchdog site.

About 35,000 articles have disappeared from the website of the North's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), as well as 65,000 articles in Spanish, English, Chinese and Japanese, according to Mr Frank Feinstein, an analyst who tracks the North's online media for Seoul-based website NK News.

About 20,000 articles were also removed from the archives of the Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea's Workers' Party, it said.

Currently, the digital record of state-approved news only reaches back to October 2013 on KCNA's website.

It was not clear if the deletion was permanent, but the move followed the purge and execution last week of Mr Kim's uncle and one-time political mentor, Jang Song Thaek.

The South's Yonhap news agency had previously reported that Jang was edited out of a rerun of a documentary film aired on the North's main television channel.

"This is a calculated thing they've done," Mr Feinstein told NK News.

"Across all sites, it means the order most likely came from above each individual agency," he said.

Another unnamed expert who follows North Korean media output told NK News that the move adds "extra noise to the cacophony of confusion related to North Korea these days".

"My initial reaction is one of shock at the extremity of such an action, but it is clear it was a carefully made decision," the expert said.

She suggested it may have been an effort to rewrite history and secure Mr Kim as the new leader, or simply the result of efforts to delete articles relating to Jang Song Thaek.

"Likely, it's a combination of reasons that led to this, but as with many North Korean actions, this only leaves me with more questions," she said.