TECH

North Korea Launches Netflix-Style Streaming Service, State Media Reports

All the programs are state-approved, obviously.

22/08/2016 16:47

North Korean citizens will soon be watching television via a Netflix-style video-on-demand service if state media is to be believed. 

A set-top box will stream documentaries about the leadership, news stories and Russian and English language lessons into people’s homes, KCTV reported. 

The device was shown to offer viewers the ability to search for programs in an online archive.

Kim Jong Min, head of the centre in charge of information and technology, said in a KCTV report: “If a viewer wants to watch, for instance, an animal movie and sends a request to the equipment, it will show the relevant video to the viewer…this is two-way communications.”

A South Korean professor speaking to NK News anonymously said the IPTV technology appeared legitimate, but said it was difficult to assess its quality. 

However, experts have cast doubt upon the viability of an extensive roll out of the service, which is called “manbang”, meaning “everywhere” or “every direction”.

NK News reported that the number of secure internet servers per million people in the DPRK was rated as zero last year.

Screengrab: YouTube, KCTV

Eric Johnson, an independent researcher with expertise in North Korean IT, said the report referred to both IPTV (Internet Protocol television) and video-on-demand (VOD). 

He told NK News: “Conventionally, IPTV refers to streaming via the internet a conventional over-the-air (normally terrestrially broadcast, or satellite broadcast, or cable-TV-broadcast) TV channel in real time.”

VOD, meanwhile, enables users to chose when and what programmes they watch, such as with Netflix and Amazon Prime. 

North Korea has made a habit of manufacturing poor imitations of American technology. In 2013, the Washington Post reported on its Android ripoff. Earlier this year, the government released a Facebook clone, the BBC reported

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