YouTube blocks N.Korean propaganda channel amidst backlashes

By Kim Min-joo
  • Published : Sept 14, 2017 - 16:20
  • Updated : Sept 14, 2017 - 16:23
YouTube is facing major backlash from researchers for shutting down North Korean propaganda channels, which are crucial sources of information about the reclusive nation.

YouTube closed several North Korean propaganda accounts Friday, restored them over the weekend and pulled them down again Tuesday.

Among terminated accounts was that of Uriminzokkiri, which is directly operated by the North Korean government’s propaganda wing. The videos on the channel, the purpose of which is to display the country‘s military power, included footage of attack simulations on Washington and shots of weapons in development.

Screengrab from North Korean propaganda outlet Uriminzokkiri`s YouTube Channel(YouTube)

Joshua Pollack, a nonproliferation scholar at Middlebury Institute of International Studies, tweeted a petition to YouTube on Tuesday pointing out the channels are “primary resources for researchers.” Pollack said via Twitter that the information from the channels’ videos was used to track the development of North Korean military power.

Curtis Melvin, a researcher at the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins SAIS, said in an open letter to YouTube’s operator, “These YouTube channels do not use advertisements and hence do not generate revenue for the North Korean government in any way,” demonstrating the channel does not violate any economic sanctions imposed on the country.

The channels remain closed with a short explanation noting it has been “terminated due to a legal complaint.”