North Korea is notorious for being the world’s worst internet black-hole — a vast majority of people there don’t have online access and only government officers are allowed to use it for official purposes.
Therefore, the news of a video on-demand service may come as a surprise to many.
North Koreans with access to the state-run version of the internet are now able to watch movies and TV shows on demand, thanks to “Manbang.”
Yes, it’s their very own Netflix where the people can “replay documentary films about the leadership and learn Russian and English languages as well as have live streaming access to five TV networks, including North Korea’s state broadcaster KCTV,” reports to NK News.
The name “Manbang” can loosely be translated to "everywhere" or "every direction" in Korean.
It is available to anyone connected to North Korea's state-run (and heavily policed) internet service, Kwangmyong— that means only a few thousand North Koreans out of the 25.2 million.
According to the Amnesty International, only 3 million people (12 percent of the population) have domestic cell phone plans, none of which can be used to call internationally. North Koreans who do smuggle in unauthorized mobile phones to access the global internet risk being sent to prison camps.
Not long ago, the world was surprised by a supposed Facebook clone being hosted by the country as well.
“It’s very unusual to have websites hosted in North Korea,” said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at the Dyn, an Internet performance management company, at that time, adding North Korean sites usually are hosted in China. “[I’m] not sure this was an official North Korean government project. But someone inside the country had to have done this.”
The website was called the "Best Korea's Social Network,” and reportedly allowed people to register and then upload their profile picture, videos, add friends, etc., just like Facebook, from all across the globe.