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Online shopping has arrived in North Korea, though it's as isolated from the rest of the world as the country itself, and the vast majority of North Koreans lack the technology to use it.

The website Okryu, aimed primarily at smartphone users, offers products from North Korean companies including women's clothing, bags, shoes, medicines, cosmetics, furniture and food. Payment, in local currency only, is taken from the main North Korean debit card system.

To keep it all hermetically sealed, the site works not on the World Wide Web but on North Korea's own intranet, a self-contained version of the Internet set up and maintained strictly for domestic use. North Koreans call it the "domestic web" and it's been around for years, but not used very much, largely because very few North Koreans have personal-use computers that can go online at all.

Okryu (pronounced ong-yu) is managed by the General Bureau of Public Service. Bureau official Jong Sol Hwa recently confirmed the online shopping site, announced with much pride by state media last month, is up and running.

It's impossible to say how popular the new site is or if the average North Korean shopper is even aware of it. The site's managers haven't announced statistics about page views, unique users or sales volume.

IN-DEPTH

--- The Associated Press