YouTube shuts down North Korea propaganda account

Seoul (AFP) –


YouTube has cut off access to a state-run North Korean propaganda channel, as the US seeks to impose tougher sanctions following Pyongyang's recent nuclear and missile tests.

The shutdown of Uriminzokkiri, which regularly posted video footage boasting of the North's nuclear and missile programmes and others praising the North's leader Kim Jong-Un, was confirmed Saturday.

"This account has been terminated for violating YouTube's community guidelines", said the video sharing website.

YouTube gives no details on reasons why particular accounts are closed down, or for how long. But advertising revenue generated by the accounts could violate US trade sanctions.

Academics use official footage from the channels of missile launches and visits to factories by Kim to gain rare insights into the progress of the country's weapons programmes.

"Tracking and digitally reconstructing events is going to be more difficult as these accounts get deleted," Scott Lafoy, a Washington-based satellite imagery analyst, told NK News.

The channel serves various propaganda purposes for North Korea.

Last month, Uriminzokkiri published a video featuring the two sons of James Joseph Dresnok, in which they said their father -- the only US soldier known still to be living in North Korea after defecting more than five decades ago -- had died last year pledging loyalty to the "great leader Kim Jong-Un".

In July, it hosted a video featuring Lim Ji-Hyun, a female defector in her 20s who arrived in Seoul in 2014 and soon became a public figure, before apparently returning to the North from the "hell" of the capitalist South.

Uriminzokkiri's social media accounts remained active Saturday.

North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test a week ago, saying it was a hydrogen bomb that could be fitted onto a missile -- prompting global condemnation and calls for further sanctions.

In July, it tested two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that appeared to bring much of the mainland US into range.

The US has formally requested a UN Security Council vote on Monday on tough new sanctions against North Korea despite resistance from China and Russia.

It is not the first time that YouTube has targeted North Korean propaganda.

In November 2016, the video sharing platform closed down state-owned Korean Central TV1. Several other channels including Chosun TV, NK Propaganda and KCTV Stream were also cut off, according to NK News.