North Korea Built Its Own Netflix, Roku Clone

North Korea's Netflix Clone Goes Live
Courtesy of Seung-il Ryu/NurPhoto/REX/Shutterstock

Add North Korea to the long list of folks who have tried to copy Netflix: North Koreans with access to the state-run version of the  internet are now able to watch movies and TV shows on demand, thanks to a new service called “Manbang,” which translates to “everywhere,” according to a report from NK News.

The service is based on a dedicated streaming device — think of it as a North Korean version of Roku or Apple TV, if you will, albeit with a much less polished interface. The device gives can be used to “replay documentary films about the leadership and learn Russian and English languages,” according to NK News. It’s also offering live streaming access to five TV networks, including North Korea’s state broadcaster KCTV.

It’s questionable whether many people will actually be able to use the service. North Korea is one of the least connected countries in the world, with only a few thousand people being allowed to access the global internet. The country is running its own version of the internet, which is separate from the rest of the internet, and reportedly only consists of some 5000 websites.

However, even with a highly restricted network, and a video service meant to dissipate state-approved propaganda, some things are the same as for Netflix viewers in any other country.

Case in point: A lot of the demand for “Manbang” seems to be driven by kids constantly asking to watch things over and over again, with NK News quoting an orphanage teacher saying: ““Children tended to pester to show new interesting videos again after their release, but we had difficulty in dealing with it. However, we are happy since we are now able to show films to them again, and children enjoy it”.”

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