Archive for March 28th, 2015

March 28, 2015

Notel

Jangmadang

A Notel, also called Notetel, is a type of portable media player made in China which is popular in North Korea. The device has USB and SD ports, can play DVDs and EVDs (Enhanced Versatile Discs, which are physically identical to DVDs but use a different file format), and contains a radio and TV tuner. The name is a portmanteau of ‘notebook’ and ‘television.’┬áIn China, Notels are no longer popular as of 2015, but sell well in the provinces that border on North Korea, where scarce internet and frequent power outages, as well as their ease of concealment make them very useful.

Notetels have been popular in North Korea since around 2005, significantly facilitating the extension of the ‘Korean Wave’ (‘Hallyu,’ the increase of the popularity of South Korean pop culture) into the communist country. After an earlier crackdown that caused black market prices to drop, the devices were legalized in December 2014 (however, they require a license and the government monitors their use). As of 2015 they are available in some government stores as well as on the black market (Jangmadang ) for around 300 Chinese Yuan (ca. US$ 50), and are present in about half of all households.