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North Korea debuts its own Netflix-like video-on-demand service

The Manbang set-top box is connected to state-controlled intranet and enables access to five TV channels showing propaganda. OK, so it's not exactly like Netflix.

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It's highly unlikely Western movies like "The Interview" are available on North Korea's first video-on-demand service.

Screenshot by CNET

Among other things, Netflix is not available in North Korea, but now there's an alternative -- sort of.

The communist country has launched a set-top box called Manbang (which means "everywhere" in Korean) that allows for two-way communication between users and the service provider, according to NK News. Korea Central Television, which is North Korea's state broadcaster, revealed the device last week.

This is a major development in the notoriously closed society, where the number of secure internet servers per 1 million users was rated at zero in 2015 by the World Bank.

The Manbang reportedly uses IPTV protocol, connects to the state-controlled intranet and has access to five TV channels. The device enables users to watch documentaries about the leadership and learn Russian and English. Users can search for titles by typing in search terms or browsing among categories, similar to how Netflix is presented in the US.

Needless to say, the Manbang is only available in North Korea so the rest of the world is out of luck.