North Korea’s Netflix

After Netflix revolutionized the streaming game, plenty of other providers from around the world have been trying to get in on the game.  One of these comes from the most unlikely of places: the famed “Hermit Kingdom” of North Korea, notoriously isolated from the rest of the world to keep out foreign influence.  State broadcaster KCTV in North Korea demoed the device yesterday, called “Manbang”, which means “everywhere”.  It will allow users to replay documentary films, access plenty of propaganda and even learn Russian and English.

Power and electricity in North Korea are limited to major areas, and then only to a select few elite and members of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK).  This makes up about 5,000 people in a country with a population of 25 million.  Even then, the Internet they have access to is heavily regulated, and foreign content is censored.  Local media says that the new Manbang box will let users to access content from the Korean Central News Agency, channels related to the country’s Juche ideology and articles from the state-controlled newspaper.  The box, according to North Korean News, allows users to search for programs in a similar manner as Netflix.  The device will be connected through an HMDI port, and also requires access to a high-speed modem, luxuries that few North Koreans have access to, which will most likely reduce the potential viewer rate.  Nonetheless, the promotional clip insists that the product is in high demand.

A country created under the wing of Stalin, North Korea took the concept of totalitarianism and brought it to a whole new level.  The cult of personality surrounding the country’s ruling family, the Kims, is unprecedented, and the government works tirelessly to keep all foreign influence out of the country.  Nonetheless, information about the outside world has been smuggled into North Korea, so that North Koreans, even if they have never used streaming services like Netflix before, are at least familiar with the concept.  And now, a select few in the country will be able to see what the fuss is all about!

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