CNET también está disponible en español.

Ir a español

Don't show this again


Netflix's brilliant response to its North Korean doppelganger

Technically Incorrect: After North Korea launches its own streaming video service, Netflix bows its head in respect. Sort of.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.

Now that's respect.

screenshot by Chris Matyszczyk/CNET

In idle moments, I've often wondered whether North Korea's state TV should be called Un-ovision.

Not only would it embrace the name of Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, but it would be a sly intimation of the things that the government thinks it's Un-necessary for citizens to see -- Seth Rogen's "The Interview," for example.

When I learned that North Korean TV is taking a step toward the streaming world by launching its own version of Netflix, I wondered how exciting it would be.

Your welfare is my greatest concern, so should you have missed the name of this service, I suggest you are first seated comfortably -- with no hot liquids nearby, before I tell you what it's called.


It's called Manbang.

I know. It doesn't translate as well as it might, does it? I fear someone in North Korea might suffer a stricture or two after western wags decide to mock this name.

You might wonder, indeed, how Netflix itself has responded to this robust, manly rival.

The company didn't immediately respond to a request for comment. I know, though, that Netflix is both impressed and intimidated by the launch of Manbang.

Indeed, the Netflix Twitter account has a new profile description: "Manbang knockoff."

Can there be a finer bow to those who have Manbanged their way into your market?

I also took a look at Manbang's promotional video. It says the service helps viewers "make a leap forward every day, every hour."

A leap forward toward their screens, most surely, as they suddenly get more Manbang for their buck.

The service is truly revolutionary. It works through a set-top box. It streams the movies through that box directly to your TV. Naturally, it only contains videos of which the government approves.

Sadly, it's not likely that many North Koreans will see Netflix's homage to Manbang. Internet access is severely restricted in the country.