YouTube blocks access to N. Korean channel

Uriminzokkiri regularly posted videos boasting the country's nuclear and missile programmes and others praising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
Uriminzokkiri regularly posted videos boasting the country's nuclear and missile programmes and others praising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. PHOTO: SCREENGRAB FROM YOUTUBE

SEOUL • YouTube has cut off access to a state-run North Korean propaganda channel as the United States seeks to impose tougher sanctions following Pyongyang's recent nuclear and missile tests.

The shutdown of Uriminzokkiri, which regularly posted videos boasting the country's nuclear and missile programmes and others praising North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, was confirmed by YouTube on Saturday.

"This account has been terminated for violating YouTube's community guidelines," said the video-sharing website, which gives no details on reasons why particular accounts are closed down, or for how long. But advertising revenue generated by the accounts could violate US trade sanctions.

The channel's official footage of missile launches and Mr Kim's visits to factories have been used by academics to gain rare insights into the progress of the country's weapons programmes.

"Tracking and digitally reconstructing events is going to be more difficult as these accounts get deleted," Washington-based satellite imagery analyst Scott Lafoy told NK News.

The channel serves various propaganda purposes for North Korea. Last month, it posted a video of the two sons of Mr James Joseph Dresnok, in which they said their father - the only US soldier known to be living in North Korea after defecting more than five decades ago - had died last year pledging loyalty to the "great leader Kim Jong Un".

In July, it hosted a video of defector Lim Ji Hyun, in her 20s, who arrived in Seoul in 2014 and soon became a public figure, before apparently returning to the North from the "hell" of the capitalist South.

It is not the first time YouTube has targeted North Korean propaganda. Last November, it shut state-owned Korean Central TV1. Several other channels, including Chosun TV, NK Propaganda and KCTV Stream, were also closed down, said NK News.

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 11, 2017, with the headline 'YouTube blocks access to N. Korean channel'. Print Edition | Subscribe