TMCnet Feature
January 21, 2013

North Korea Allows Rental Cell Phones and SIM Cards

By Oliver VanDervoort, Contributing Writer

Are the recent technological developments in North Korea a sign that the country is starting to realize the negative aspects of being a technology outsider? If North Korea is moving toward the mainstream, the poverty stricken country is doing so at a snail’s pace. It also appears that if there is movement toward becoming even a little more technologically advanced, the country is being dragged kicking and screaming.

 Part of the reason the country is being included more in the technological age has to do with Google’s (News - Alert) announcement that it will now start to display the gulags that have been hidden for years on Google Earth maps.

Where North Korea has moved forward willingly, is with the use of cell phones inside the tiny communist country. The country recently announced that it will be loosening restrictions on foreign cell phone use. Now when someone from outside of North Korea flies into Pyongyang airport they will be able to either rent an entire cell phone, or rent a SIM card that will work inside North Korea’s borders. The country’s cellular provider, Koryolink has a booth set up inside the airport and will rent you the SIM cards for around $67.

Image via Shutterstock

With this SIM card you will be able to place calls to individuals outside the country, but you still won’t be able to make cellular contact with any of the locals. While you’ll be able to call your embassy, you won’t be able to browse its webpage since the SIM cards don’t have the ability to log onto the Internet. This last restriction is apparently a deliberate one by the ruling party. There doesn’t seem to be a technological issue with getting online, it is simply something that North Korea’s government hasn’t seen fit to allow at this point.

Edited by Brooke Neuman
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