Footage obtained by NK News shows the internet in a specially allocated room in Pyongyang’s new airport terminal working quickly, and apparently uncensored.
The video contrasts with an August 24 report from the Associated Press which said the computers did not appear connected to the internet and had no keyboards.
“The North Korean guy (in charge of the room) was very friendly to us, he only asked for our passport. In the end I gave mine,” a recent visitor, who requested anonymity for professional reasons told NK News.
The footage shows the user visiting numerous websites, including the New York Times and Facebook. Lastly the user navigates to YouTube where videos appear to load rapidly with minimal buffering time.
Reportedly the North Korean staff member claimed the connection speed is 100 Mbps, though this remains unconfirmed.
A June report from Akamai’s “State of the Internet Report” found average internet speeds in the U.S. where 11.9 Mbps. South Korea, which normally holds the top spot for internet speeds clocked in at 23.6 Mbps, though faster connections in both countries are available.
Generally North Koreans do not have access to the outside internet, only an intranet with sites approved by the DPRK government.
Aside from the staff members, it is unclear if the room is also accessible to North Koreans traveling through the Pyongyang terminal.
“I suppose North Koreans who get permission to travel abroad would be ok to use it, but I am speculating,” the source added.
While the uncensored internet might be attractive to foreigners entering or leaving the country, adding in passwords or other credentials would probably be risky.
“Everything a user does will be monitored. There’s no way they’d construct such a utility without implementing backdoors,” NK News technical officer Frank Feinstein said.
“Also, if a visitor to the DPRK happened to use it at the start of their trip and had their digital credentials ‘hoovered up’ by the system, the powers that be would be in an unusually good position to monitor them for the rest of the visit,” he added.
While in country foreigners can still also use smartphones to connect to the internet. Local service provider Koryolink sells 3G sim cards, however data costs are not cheap.
Additional reporting: Chad O’Carroll
Featured image: NK News
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