North Korea might be a small, secretive country that only ever makes the news for instigating and threatening war against other countries. But the nation’s secluded nature doesn’t mean it’s completely off the grid. North Koreans do have access to the internet, but with a majority of the country living under the massive control and censorship of the ruling class, the number of users in North Korea that actually have internet access is tiny, and limited to the ruling classes and government officials.
While common citizens probably don’t even know what social media and search engines are, the ruling classes have access to services such as Facebook, Instagram and Google. However, according to a recent report by Reuters, it is believed that these few users are choosing to stay away from the western services.
This could be because of the current political climate, where the United States (and its companies including Google and Facebook) are seen as against the national interests of North Korea. It could also be the result of a direct ban on the use of American social media services. Instead, North Korean internet users prefer to opt for Chinese services such as Alibaba, Baidu and Tencent.
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North Koreans have also increased the use of internet activity cloaking services, with a reported 1,200 percent rise in the use of VPNs and other activity masking services. North Korea has an estimated population of about 25 million people, of which only 1 percent – about 2,50,000 people in the entire country – have access to the internet. Even that access is strictly monitored and censored, making North Korea one of the least connected nations in the world as far as internet usage is concerned.