North Koreans Might Soon Be Able To ‘Netflix And Chill’ Authoritarian Style

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Soon North Koreans are going to be able to ‘Netflix and Chill’ to their heart’s content, with Kim Jong-un revealing the reclusive state will be releasing its own version of the streaming service.

The country’s state broadcast television made the announcement earlier this week, Forbes reports.

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According to NK News, North Koreans can stream programmes by using a set-top box, which is interestingly named ‘Manbang’, allowing them to indulge in such totalitarian delights as: watching up to five different channels, receiving updates on Kim Jong-un’s activities, watching gripping state-sponsored documentaries and reading newspaper articles from the state newspaper. Fun.

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But considering the almost complete lack of internet in the country, it’s a mystery as to how the service will work, and the announcement has been played down as purely propaganda.

The little bit of internet that is available is very tightly controlled, and the ability to get online – either on a desktop or mobile – is incredibly limited.

Steven Weber, a professor at the University of California and expert on North Korea, told Forbes:

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Both the Iranians and the North Koreans have really struggled with connectivity because both of those countries would love to have their own national Internet if they could. But it’s hard, because the technologies they need to distribute it widely could also be used by people to find ways to get on to the global Internet.

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Weber is very sceptical that the North Korean streaming service will become a reality, adding: “If you have a set-top box on your TV, it still has to connect to a network via cable or wireless.”

He continued:

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Perhaps in some imaginary world, the North Koreans could create their own content, they could store it on air-gapped servers apart from the internet and distribute it, but even the Chinese can’t afford that. And besides. Who’s going to want to watch all those North Korean films?

He’s got a point. I don’t think I’ll be tuning in to binge-watch the North Korean version of Breaking Bad any time soon.


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