Google at The Grand People’s Study House

The availability of internet access at the Great People’s Study House in Pyongyang has been known for many years. Tourists to the site reported seeing it multiple times and Google founder Eric Schmidt and his colleagues saw North Koreans accessing Google and Cornell University websites when they visited in 2013, according to an AP report.

In July, a Korean Central Television report on a new online library system showed a computer screen displaying Google’s homepage. While North Korean television regularly shows citizens sitting in front of computers and accessing websites, it is common to see only domestic websites displayed on computer screens.

Google’s homepage seen on a computer screen at the Grand People’s Study House in Pyongyang, seen in KCTV footage on July 23, 2022 (Image: KCTV)

Internet access is strictly monitored in North Korea, and the extent to which North Korean citizens can browse the Internet is unclear. Given the state’s strict rules on access to foreign information, they are unlikely to have carte blanche to visit any site they choose.

When Sophie Schmidt visited the building’s electronic library in 2013 as part of the Google delegation, she encountered a room with around 90 computers but little activity. “Nobody was doing anything,” she wrote on her blog. “A few scrolled or clicked, but the others just watched. »

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