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I Tried to Find a Tinder Date in North Korea

#LonelyinPyongyang.
August 12, 2015, 2:30pm
Image: Tuomas Lehtinen/Shutterstock

Twitter rants from corporate PR departments are always fun. The latest, with dating app Tinder's account exploding in response to an article in Vanity Fair, did not disappoint.

In a counter to the magazine piece on some of the app users' sad lifestyles, Tinder tweeted, among other things, that people should take note of the company's "many users in China and North Korea who find a way to meet people on Tinder even though Facebook is banned."

But it looks as if no-one is actually using Tinder in Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, or for miles around it.

A developer friend had the idea of combining the Android Fake GPS location tool—which tricks your phone into thinking it is physically located somewhere else—with Tinder, and setting the spoofed location to Pyongyang. From here, I set the discovery options of the app—which determine the breadth of search for potential dates—to include both men and women within 100 miles, the maximum distance setting the app allows.

At first, one result popped up: a 22-year-old woman 97 miles away. However, I realised that 100 miles was probably too generous of a search, as this would include some areas of South Korea. And besides, her profile indicated that she was from California, and only in "Korea till August," so she didn't really qualify as a proper North Korean Tinder user.

When the search was reduced to 85 miles, no results were returned.

"There's no one new around you," the message on Tinder read, endlessly.

Of course, this isn't surprising. As pointed out by South China Morning Post, Tinder's service relies heavily on interaction with Facebook, which is banned in both China and North Korea. Even if Facebook wasn't banned, the vast majority of North Koreans don't have internet access anyway.

Tinder did not respond to questions about its North Korean users, but did say in a statement that, "Our intention was to highlight the many statistics and amazing stories that are sometimes left unpublished, and, in doing so, we overreacted."