San Francisco: YouTube has shut down two North Korean propaganda channels that academics use to monitor and assess the regime’s missile programmes, reported the Guardian.
Stimmekoreas, the number one YouTube channel on North Korea with more than 20,000 subscribers, and Uriminzokkiri, which had more than 18,000 subscribers, regularly posted of videos of state TV news clips and other footage, attracting millions of views.
On Friday they were terminated for violating YouTube’s community guidelines.
Arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis uses these channels to analyze videos of missile launches and tours of factories, to better understand the regime’s nuclear capabilities. He urged YouTube to revoke its decision in the interest of national security.
Stimmekoreas is believed to be operated by a supporter of North Korea who lives outside of the country and posts very high resolutions videos of state propaganda from the Korean Central News Agency in a variety of languages.
Uriminzokkiri is directly tied to North Korea’s propaganda wing, and posts content that appears to target North Koreans living abroad.
Academics use official footage of missile launches to assess how powerful they are based on how quickly they are accelerating, he said. They can also learn about the weapons from machinery and parts visible in videos of factory tours by supreme leader Kim Jong-un.
Stimmekoreas’ very high resolution videos were particularly useful for this type of analysis.
Beyond the missile programme, researchers can also learn about the people Kim Jong-un surrounds himself with and who is becoming more and less important in the DPRK’s notoriously precarious political sphere.
YouTube did not immediately respond to questions about why the channels were shut down, although it could be because the advertising revenue generated by the accounts would violate US trade sanctions.
It’s not the first time that YouTube has targeted North Korean propaganda.
In November 2016, the video sharing platform closed down KoreanCentralTV1. Several other channels including Chosun TV, NK Propaganda and KCTV Stream were also axed, according to NK News.