North Korea reportedly just launched its own version of Netflix -- but there's a catch

  • North Korean state media announced a new Netflix-like app available to smartphone users within the country.
  • North Koreans can only consume state-approved media, and can be killed for watching South Korean programs.
  • North Korean smartphone users have their online activity monitored around the clock by government agents.

North Korean state media announced this week that the burgeoning population of smart phone and tablet users in the country can now enjoy a Netflix-type app.

The app, called “My Companion 4.0,” reportedly allows users to read ebooks, watch video, play games, or even do karaoke,according to an NK News report on the North Korean media announcement.

Screenshots of the app posted by North Korea’s state-run media show users can watch a variety of shows, performances, and sporting events. Users can also buy programs, but it’s unclear how.

North Korea’s creation of a Netflix-like app comes after smartphones have become widespread in the country, but only with a sinister catch.

First of all, North Korea doesn’t access the internet, only a limited intranet of websites hosted within the country. This allows the regime in Pyongyang to police the content available to its citizens.

Though South Korean media is commonly smuggled into the country, and enjoyed by many, possession of the media can result in a death sentence or going to some of North Korea’s prison camps, which a judge who survived Auschwitz recently called “as terrible, or even worse, than those I saw and experienced in my youth in these Nazi camps.”

Secondly, North Korean officials monitor smart phone use around the clock, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“There is no country which monopolizes and controls successfully the internet and information as North Korea does,” Kang Shin-sam, an expert on North Korean technology and co-head of the International Solidarity for Freedom of Information in North Korea, told the Journal.

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