Featured image credit: BBC
North Korea has launched a set-top box dubbed Manbang, which is the country’s version of Netflix. Manbang, which means everywhere in Korean, allow two-way communication between the users and service provider, according to NK News. Manbang reportedly uses IPTV protocol, connecting to the state-controlled intranet to access five TV channels. Using the device, viewers can watch documentaries about the leadership and learn English and Russian. The device also allows users to read the newspaper Rodong Sinmun and watch the Korean Central News Agency.
Users can also search titles by typing in search terms or browsing among categories. According to Kin Jong Min, an engineer behind the project, if a viewer wants to watch, for instance, an animated movie or series, he/she can send a request to the equipment, and it will show an appropriate video to the viewer.
Manbang reportedly works by plugging the device into an internet modem, and then connect an HDMI cable to the TV from the cable box. Only a small number of North Koreans will get the chance to use the device as only a few thousand of the 25 million citizens have access to the state-sanctioned intranet. Despite this, the presence of this device can be considered as a significant development since the nation is seen as a notoriously closed society. According to a World Bank report secure internet servers per 1 million users was rated at zero in 2015.
In May this year security researcher Doug Madory discovered a social network, which resembled Facebook on a North Korean internet address. It existence was short lived when people started setting up spoof profiles including one of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. According to Mr. Madory, he did not believe that the site was intended to be accessible from outside North Korea
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