About the Author
Dagyum Ji is a senior NK News correspondent based in Seoul. She previously worked for Reuters TV.
North Korea has launched a new e-commerce website entitled “Unphasan”, equipped with new services such as preordering and payment on delivery, state-run outlet Arirang-Meari reported last week.
The online store, set up by the Unphasan IT Exchange Company, will “actively push ahead with the vitalization of e-commerce and the diversification of the knowledge economy in accordance with the demands of the real world,” according to the report.
Unphasan “sells products to subscribers,” and provides ordering services such as a “function to search for goods and put products into one basket and online payments” for “the convenience of the browsers and product purchasers.”
The online store now offers “payment on delivery and purchase through reservation”: services not before seen on North Korean e-commerce websites.
Arirang-Meari also reported that “subscribers can actively carry out exchanges of information and technology and e-commerce activities among each other.”
The online shopping website has reportedly become “a hit”, and also allows customers to browse the opening hours of local stores and access commercial information.
A photo released by Arirang-Meari showed that the online shopping mall has four sections: homepage, online store, service information, and a forum for discussion.
But the image showed that, for now, few goods are being traded on the website, with only nine items on sale in the electronics section, and none for sale in the women’s and men’s clothes, shoes and bags, or fabric, textile, and “daily necessities” sections.
Despite the Unphasan shopping using the “www.unphasan.com.kp” URL, it appears that the website is only accessible on the domestic intranet as the website is not accessible outside the DPRK.
Unphasan is one of several e-commerce websites launched by North Korea in recent months, which include the Naenara online department store and Okryu, which allows customers to have cold noodles delivered to their homes. In November, state media reported on the launch of Manmulsang, another online shopping platform.
DPRK Today has reported that the growing domestic popularity of e-commerce websites is linked to their alleged convenience, allowing users to access product information “whenever needed” and browse information “at any time” through a personal computer or mobile phone.
“It’s not long since the homepage was launched but the number of the registered products per day in the homepage exceeds 100,” DPRK Today reported on June 24 in a recent article on the growth of the site.
“The number of the visitors to the homepage per day is around 60,000, including [users of] the national computer network and mobile phone communication network, and the number is rising every day.”
A screenshot in DPRK Today showed that, as of June 13, the site has received over 5.26 million accumulated visits from PC and cellphone users.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: NK News