North Korea: Online shopping site launched

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Media captionConsumerism seems to be on the rise in North Korea, as Steve Evans reports

North Korea's government says it has launched an online shopping website.

The state-run site, called Okryu, offers a range of products including food and medicines, according to official news agency KCNA. While it says the site is "aimed at promoting convenience for the people", it's not clear how many will actually be able to use it, as internet access is extremely limited outside of elite circles. Some people can use the country's own state-controlled intranet - known as Kwangmyong - via their smartphones, but computers are prohibitively expensive for the average worker and ownership requires government approval.

"While it is questionable how accessible it is to regular people, North Korea can easily manage an online shopping mall with its technology," North Korean economy expert Hong Soon-jik tells South Korea's JoongAng Daily. Okryu also shows that North Korea has improved its IT systems, Kim Heung-kwang, a former professor at Pyongyang Computer Technology University, tells the paper. "North Korea can no longer block the market economy completely and is responding in its own way," he says.

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