Wednesday, June 24, 2015

North Korea appears to have blocked Instagram

North Korea has apparently blocked access to Instagram within its borders, jeopardizing one of the most popular ways for journalists and foreigners to document life in the hermetic country. As the Associated Press reports, users who open Instagram on the Koryolink 3G network have reported seeing a message that reads: "Warning! You can't connect to this website because it’s in blacklist site." A warning in Korean adds that the site contains "harmful content."

The AP reports that the photo-sharing app was still usable on some mobile devices despite the warning, but posting photos or viewing user profiles was impossible on other devices connected to the 3G network. The warnings have also appeared when accessing Instagram on desktop computers with LAN cable connections.

It's not clear what spurred the apparent blacklisting. Koryolink, North Korea's only 3G operator, says it wasn't notified of a change in policy, and the government has yet to issue a statement on the matter. There is speculation that the Instagram block may be a response to a fire that erupted this month at a popular hotel in Pyongyang. The incident wasn't reported by North Korea's state-run media, though images spread across social media.

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