What you may be surprised to learn is that the leadership in Pyongyang isnít exactly practicing what it preaches when it comes to isolation from the outside world.

A pair of internet security research companies conducted a fascinating study on North Korean internet activity and found that those with the privilege of accessing the outside internet, use it pretty much in the same way that western elites do. I say outside or external internet because North Korea has an internal government-run network that connects libraries, universities, and government offices, but is growing to connect some households as well.

Monitoring activity from April through June of this year, the researchers captured a snapshot of North Korean external internet activity. The companies chose this time period as it coincided with increased tensions due to Pyongyangís missile launches.

According to the report, North Koreans with access to the outside internet ďare actively engaged in Western and popular social media, regularly read international news, use many of the same services such as video streaming and online gaming.Ē

Perhaps most amusingly, of the internet traffic captured, more than 65% was gaming or streaming-related. The North Korean users accessed Chinaís version of YouTube called Youku, iTunes, bittorrent servers, and seemed to be big fans of a game called World of Tanks.

Not surprisingly, the North Koreans also spent a great deal of time researching cybersecurity companies, products and tools.

What is also fascinating is that less than one percent of the internet activity was protected in any way, such as using a virtual private network or Tor. This suggests that they arenít bothered if they are caught.

The researchers also found suspicious activity. In one instance, they identified Bitcoin mining, the generation of Bitcoins by solving complex math problems. This uses a great deal of a computerís power and takes some time.

They also found possible evidence of reconnaissance against Indiaís space program and national labs, as well as the national research lab in the Philippines.

So what should we take away from this? Donít assume the leadership in North Korea is as isolated as the rest of the population. Whether through social media or even general internet usage, they have access to the press and media. Pyongyang is finding ways to ensure they arenít cut off from the outside world.

This could present an opportunity to work from the inside out to change North Korea. A long-game and a long-shot for sure, but a possibility nonetheless.