Seoul (AFP): Netflix is poking fun at North Korea’s recent foray into on-demand TV, calling itself a “Manbang knockoff” on its Twitter bio.
The tongue-in-cheek change to the Netflix US bio comes after Pyongyang proudly unveiled a video streaming service called Manbang (“Everywhere”), which was instantly described as a Netflix-style service by Western media.
The system allows viewers with some sort of Internet access to enjoy the highly-propagandised output of its four state-run TV channels at their leisure.
A programme introducing the service that aired on Korean Central Television (KCTV) last week said it was available to any institute, company or household that subscribes to North Korea’s state-operated intranet.
The number of intranet subscribers in North Korea is unknown, but KCTV said “hundreds” of people had signed up to the Manbang service in Sinuiju — one of three cities where the system is being rolled out.
Set up in 2000, the intranet only allows access to selected, government-approved websites and mostly functions as a communication platform between government agencies, universities, industry and commerce.
Outside of hotels catering to foreigners, access to the full-blown internet in North Korea is for the super-elite only — a few hundred people or maybe 1,000 at most.