North Korea is the most isolated country in the world, and now they are becoming even more isolated. Internet access in the country is restricted to only high-level government officials and now the country’s leadership is taking away access to social media websites.
The AP, which has a bureau in North Korean capital Pyongyang, reports that the government named YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Voice of America, a number of South Korean websites, porn and gambling websites on a list of Internet sites that will be blocked “for a certain period of time.” The announcement reportedly added that anyone trying to access the sites in an “improper” way or distribute “anti-republic data” would be punished, although it did not specify how.
North Korea is hardly a place for mainstream Internet access — the country has a reported 2 million mobile phone users but Internet access is reserved for government officials or other high-level positions — but this is a further step to shut the country off and restrict access to information.
North Korea’s sole mobile operator, Koryolink, enabled mobile internet access for visitors in 2013 and — bar some apparent shutdowns and the occasional issue with Instagram — that has helped bring images and information from the world’s most isolated country to wider audiences.
This attempted opening of information flow into the hermit country is vital if change is to ever come to North Korea. Those who speak out against the government are quickly silenced and the numbers of dissenters are never big enough to do any good – mainly because natives haven’t the slightest idea what life is like outside of North Korea.
This progress now appears to be slowing if not totally stopped. Social media has helped spur revolutions across the world and has the potential to do the same in North Korea. However, it’s unclear to see how any social media platform would survive given the government’s strict rules.
Some accounts have become extremely popular on Instagram that profile everyday life in North Korea. These images are serving a huge role in educating the global audience about what life is like across the DMZ.
Check out some of these images: