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North Korea

The Last Temptation Of Pyongyang

A visit to North Korea reveals fears about the Internet's pernicious influence on youth, but also a big push in computer science training. The market economy calls, but 'social control' is at risk.

Pyongyang Taedong River at sunset
Pyongyang Taedong River at sunset
Philippe Pons

PYONGYANG — This restaurant with a local clientele, where diners place their orders on a touchscreen, is never empty despite prices that scant North Koreans can afford. In the street, little shops sell vegetables, fruit, drinks, frozen products and imported cosmetics. Their signs are lit until around 10 p.m. — late for Pyongyang. Taking advantage of the urban light, sparse as it is, young couples walk hand in hand. The An Sang Taek quarter, with its skyscrapers for the elite, doesn't have the flashy look of a city center, but it does reveal two noticeable features of the North Korean capital: the development of electronic communication and the taste for consumption.

North Koreans are far from able to navigate freely on the Internet. But that doesn't mean that the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has any less presence online — just that it avoids the "corrosive" influence from the outside and integrates information technology into its system of social control.

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Firefighters work to put out the fire in a mall hit by a Russian missile strike

Shaun Lavelle, Anna Akage and Emma Albright

Officials fear the death toll will continue to climb after two Russian missiles hit the Armstor shopping center in the central Ukrainian city of Kramenchuk. According to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, more than 1,000 people were inside the mall Monday at the time of the attack.

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For the moment, the death toll is at 18 with 36 people missing and at least 59 injured, reported a regional official on Tuesday. The search and rescue operations continue under the rubble.

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