North Korea blocks Facebook, Twitter and YouTube

The crackdown will make it easier for foreigners to share information about North Korea with the outside world

Doug Bolton
Friday 01 April 2016 17:43 BST
North Koreans perform at the Arirang festival in 2005
North Koreans perform at the Arirang festival in 2005 (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)

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North Korea has started blocking Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other western websites, the regime has announced.

A number of South Korean websites have also been blocked, in a move which suggests the government is growing more concerned about the spread of information online.

As reported by the Associated Press, the decision was made by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, who made their announcement on the homepage of Koryolink, the main mobile service provider in North Korea.

The decision is unlikely to have major effects on ordinary North Koreans, since the vast majority of them have no access to the internet.

The few who do can only browse a sealed-off, government sanctioned intranet, rather than the web at large.

However, there were previously no open restrictions on visiting foreigners' use of the internet, although there was thought to be secret monitoring of their activities.

With the new blocks in place, it will become much more difficult for visitors or the small number of foreign residents in North Korea to share up-to-date information about the country with the outside world.

The announcement said anyone who tries to access the blocked sites in an "improper" way, or uses them to distribute "anti-republic data" would be punished, although the penalty was not specified.

The internet opened up in North Korea in 2013, when foreigners were allowed to use 3G on their mobile phones. Since then, people have posted Facebook statuses from inside the country, sent tweets, created Instagram pictures and even live-streamed videos.

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