North Korea has blocked Instagram

23 Jun 2015

Pyongyang, North Korea. Photo via Shutterstock

Just days after photos of a fire at one of North Korea’s biggest and best-known hotels appeared online, the country has begun restricting access to Instagram.

The surprise here, of course, is that the popular photo-sharing app was ever available to view in the notoriously self-quarantined nation. But while severe censorship has long been imposed on the North Korean people, foreign visitors have generally enjoyed internet access on their phones via the Koryolink mobile carrier network.

As reported by the Associated Press, attempting to open Instagram now results in a notification in English that reads: “Warning! You can’t connect to this website because it’s in blacklist site.” Similar cautions have also appeared sporadically over the last five days when sites that link to Instagram have been accessed through Koryolink on PCs or laptops using LAN cables. The staff at Koryolink says it is not aware of any changes in policy regarding Instagram. Facebook, which owns the app, is also said to be operating as normal.

While it’s not entirely clear whether the restriction is linked to the 11 June fire at the Koryo Hotel, when a footbridge connecting the two towers of the structure caught fire, security agents did attempt to stop anyone taking photographs of the building, according to Reuters. The images that did make it out of the country were featured in news bulletins around the world. Naturally, the incident was not reported in North Korea itself.

Pyongyang image via Shutterstock

Dean Van Nguyen was a contributor to Silicon Republic