YouTube closed down and then reinstated two North Korean propaganda channels just prior to the United Nations passing new sanctions on North Korea on Monday.
Popular North Korean YouTube channels Stimmekoreas and Uriminzokkiri were shut down by YouTube after posting videos of state TV news clips and other events.
Both channels were shut down for violating YouTube’s community guidelines. While YouTube did not mention specifics on why the channels were shut down, it can be speculated that advertisement revenue made through the accounts could violate trade sanctions.
Several academies criticized YouTube’s decision, saying that they use the videos to gain insight into the country’s weapons programs.
Arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis told The Guardian that he urged YouTube to reverse its decision.
“North Korea is a country with thermonuclear weapons sitting on ICBMs [intercontinental ballistic missiles] that can reach the United States. It is really important to understand them even if we don’t like them,” Lewis said. “That starts by analyzing their propaganda. Even though it’s tendentious, you can learn a lot about a country from the lies they tell.”
“When [Kim Jong Un] visits a factory in the middle of nowhere and stares at machine tools, it provides an important insight into the progress they are making,” Lewis continued.
“North Korea uses YouTube as a primary distribution network for its propaganda,” he added. “Often you don’t know something is important until later, so having all that information available and searchable was incredibly valuable.”
YouTube has previously shut down state-owned Korean Central TV1, as well as Chosun TV, NK Propaganda and KCTV Stream, NK News reported.