Photo: Reuters/Dado Ruvic

YouTube’s recent decision to delete North Korean YouTube channels from its website has cut off a vital supply of video used by open source researchers.

Veteran North Korea watcher Martyn Williams said in a post on 38 North that this means there is now less visibility into what’s happening in North Korea thanks to the action taken by the California-based video sharing website.

“The Western world’s understanding of North Korea is limited to begin with, cutting off access to these few windows into North Korean thinking and life further hampers our knowledge of the country,” Williams wrote.

Williams says YouTube’s brainless action occurred on September 8, when some in the open source intelligence community logged on to the site to find the North Korean “Uriminzokkiri” (우리민족끼리) channel was gone.

The only explanation from Google was a simple notice: “This account has been terminated for violating YouTube’s community guidelines.” At about the same time, the same message reportedly appeared on the “StimmeKoreas” YouTube channel, though that channel is now still available.

Williams says both channels had been on YouTube for about 7 years. Each reportedly had thousands of archived videos and millions of views, and had become essential references for video from North Korea. Hours of news videos, documentaries and military programming that had enabled researchers to uncover numerous secrets about the country have now been lost.