North Korea now has online shopping with 24-hour delivery

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ED JONES/AFP/Getty Images

  • Online shopping with 24-hour delivery is now available in North Korea.
  • State media is championing one store that allows customers to order at any time and receive their orders within 24 hours, with free delivery.
  • The service is likely only available to wealthy North Koreans in Pyongyang.

An online store in North Korea is now offering 24-hour delivery, according to state media.

First reported by NK News, the online store Abnal is allowing customers to purchase goods online at any time and will deliver them, for free, within the next day.

“Customers can purchase goods at any time and place through the mobile communication network at the store,” reported state-run Arirang-Meari. “It is scoring a great hit with the customers by enabling instant payment by card and offering various additional services and free delivery service within 24 hours.”

But it is not clear whether placing orders over a network “at the store” means shoppers need to physically be at one of Abnal’s stores or if this was an error in translation.

However, needing to physically visit a store to access digital sales may not be so unusual to North Koreans.

In Pyongyang, smartphone users must visit a physical app store to download apps, according to an AP report. The store is located in an IT centre and, once purchased, customers can download apps and security software via bluetooth.

But online shopping is growing in North Korea.

In 2015, AP reported the government’s General Bureau of Public Service was managing the North Korean intranet site Okryu, which sold women’s clothing, accessories, medicines, furniture, and food.

And in 2016, the site Manmulsang clocked up 3.2 million views in less than a year, according to NK News.

But these services, along with on-demand taxis and a new Netflix-like app, would largely be confined to a small number of wealthy North Koreans in the country’s capital.