It’s a big day for North Korea.
The hermit kingdom finally caught up with the rest of the world and launched an online shopping platform. There are just a few, er, snags:
- You can’t access it, only those in North Korea can
- Foreigners can’t use it either, even if they are in North Korea
- North Koreans also can’t use it, because hardly any of them have internet access
Basically, that means Kim Jong Un has launched a personal shopping site for himself and the country’s elite.
All hail the great leader!
The shopping service, called Okryu, offers products from local companies including clothing, medicines, cosmetics, furniture and food. To prevent shoppers from navigating to the outside world, the entire virtual shop is sealed within the country’s intranet – a self-contained version of the World Wide Web except it’s set up and maintained strictly for domestic use. While North Korea’s version of the internet has been around for years, hardly anyone uses it because, well, they can’t. The vast majority of the population lacks personal computers.
Smartphone use, however, is on the rise. While still rare in rural areas, they’ve become more common in Pyongyang ever since their broad use was allowed in 2008. Nearly one out of every 10 residents now owns one. That said, it was only last year that North Korea’s mobile phone network started allowing customers to use their devices to visit websites (a very select few, mind you), including the state news agency. We imagine Okryu will be added to the list.
That means roughly 10 per cent of the population will be able to use the service.
So how will the products actually be delivered? Those questions weren’t answered during a demonstration, according to the Associated Press.