Manbang: North Koreans Get Own Take On VOD & Streaming TV


North Korea’s government appears to have launched an internet Video on Demand service. It’s got limited content and an unfortunate name for English speakers.

It seems the service was intended to have a name conveying that the content is available in “every direction” or “everywhere” but the Korean word for that meaning is pronounced “Manbang.”

The service works over the Internet but is designed for use on televisions via a modem connection and set-top box rather than on a computer. The independent NK News site reports that the service offers live streaming of five channels, a selection of searchable on-demand videos, and access to text from both a state newspaper and state news agency.

Exactly how many people have both the equipment and the connection to use the system is unclear, with even state run media suggesting its more likely to be in the hundreds.

While the content is certainly controlled and approved by the government, the system does have a couple of legitimate technical reasons according to state media. One is for people who live in the border city of Sinuiju where over-the-air reception can suffer from radio interference from Chinese broadcasters.

Another is for children, who reportedly share their international counterparts’ desire to watch the same video over and over again, something that isn’t normally possible with North Korea’s linear TV stations.

(Image credit: Korean Central Television (KCTV))