North Korea first gained access to the Internet in 2000. At this time, it was available for government purposes only. It is unclear when it was made available to the public however; in 2010, their main news agency site was published online. Internet access is free to those institutions and individuals who receive permission to use it and who can afford to buy a computer.
Until 2014, it was not public knowledge that North Korea even allowed Internet access to its citizens. The few folks who did know they had Internet access there was even fewer that knew what sites they could access. Their Internet access is routed through China so this adds another layer of complexity that further hides the Internet activities of North Korea’s users.
In 2016, due to a misconfigured server, the full list of websites that is allowed by the North Korean government was released. They allow their citizens access to only 28 sites that are owned and managed (or partially owned and managed) by the North Korean government. These sites include commercial airlines, culinary & recipes, news, insurance, elderly care, and a handful of other sites.
North Korea has been blocking sites unofficially for years however, they recently officially announced they are blocking access to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and other sites to control access to outside information. While this is horrible, they are not alone. This is very similar to censorship that is being used by China, Iran, etc.
North Korea (and other governments) are actively “governing” their people by determining what information they can access on the Internet. This is exactly how dictators want it, they want to keep feeding the citizens bad information to keep themselves in power. It will be interesting to see how this will change over the next decade as the Internet will slowly reach their citizens. Hopefully one day they will be able to get on the Internet and social media to see what the rest of the world is like.