NKorea eases rules, lets visitors bring cellphones
Rosalinda L. Orosa (The Philippine Star) - January 22, 2013 - 9:27am

 

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — North Korea is loosening some restrictions on foreign cellphones by allowing visitors to bring their own phones into the country. However, security regulations still prohibit mobile phone calls between foreigners and locals.
 
For years, North Korea required visitors to relinquish foreign cellphones at the border until their departure, leaving many tourists without an easy way to communicate with the outside world.
 
The ritual of handing over phones was part of an exhaustive security check that most visitors face at immigration in North Korea. Many foreigners — including Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google, who traveled to North Korea earlier this month — choose to leave their phones behind in Beijing before flying to Pyongyang.
 
Now, foreigners can bring wideband, WCDMA-compatible mobile phones into the country or rent a local handset at the airport, and purchase a local SIM card for use in North Korea. The SIM card allows them to call most foreign countries, foreign embassies in Pyongyang and international hotels in the North Korean capital, according to Ryom Kum Dan of 3G cellphone service provider Koryolink.
 
Cellphones rent for about $3.50 per day and SIM cards cost about $67, she said Monday. Satellite phones are prohibited, she said.
 
However, foreigners will not be able to communicate by mobile phone with local North Koreans, whose cellphones operate on a separate network, and they will not have access to the Internet using locally provided SIM cards. They can phone Japan and the United States, but not South Korea.
 
Cellphone use has multiplied in North Korea since Egyptian telecommunications firm Orascom built a 3G network in North Korea four years ago. More than a million people are using cellphones in the country, according to Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, which runs Koryolink as part of a joint venture with North Korea's telecommunications ministry called CHEO Technology JV Co.
 
The 3G network also provides North Koreans with access to the state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper for a fee, but not to the global Internet.
 
On Friday, Koryolink saleswomen were setting up cellphone rental booths at Pyongyang's Sunan airport. One poster depicting a woman in a traditional Korean dress with a cellphone pressed to her ear read, "Here You Can Buy Koryolink Visitor Line."
 
During his recent four-day trip to North Korea, Schmidt urged North Korea to provide its people with better access to the global Internet. The Google executive chairman noted that it would be "very easy" for North Korea to offer Internet on the 3G cellphone network.
 
"As the world becomes increasingly connected, the North Korean decision to be virtually isolated is very much going to affect their physical world and their economic growth. It will make it harder for them to catch up economically," he wrote in a Google blog entry posted Sunday.
 
"It is their choice now, and in my view, it's time for them to start, or they will remain behind."

ERIC SCHMIDT GOOGLE KOREA KORYOLINK NORTH NORTH KOREA NORTH KOREAN NORTH KOREANS
  • Latest
  • Trending
Latest
Are you sure you want to log out?
X
Login

Philstar.com is one of the most vibrant, opinionated, discerning communities of readers on cyberspace. With your meaningful insights, help shape the stories that can shape the country. Sign up now!

SIGN IN
or sign in with
Read and share the latest news
whenever and wherever you are.
Top Stories
Features the most relevant stories,
exclusive content, analyses and special reports.
As It Happens
Get bite-sized highlights and up-to-date
information as the news breaks.
Latest
View the most recent
stories of the day.
Log-in
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
Quisque justo est, auctor vel ullamcorper.
Log-in
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet,
consectetur adipiscing elit.
Quisque justo est, auctor vel ullamcorper.
How to follow As It Happens stories
STEP 1
Click the story in the As it Happens section.
How to follow As It Happens stories
STEP 2
Click "Follow Story" for updates on the news.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.
How to follow Author
STEP 1
Click on the author's name in the article.
How to follow Author
STEP 2
Once you click on the author's name, you will be
brought to the Authors page. Click "Follow Author"
to stay updated on the author's works
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.
How to follow Tags
STEP 1
Click on a tag in the article.
How to follow Tags
STEP 2
When you click on a tag, it will take you to the
dedicated tag page where you'll see the article
viewed, along with other stories with that tag.

Click the "follow tag" button to stay updated on
the topic.
Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet, consectetur adipiscing elit. Aliquam eu metus vitae felis tincidunt finibus ut id sapien. Integer volutpat dui eu malesuada dignissim. Sed varius justo nulla, fringilla convallis sem porta sed.