On February 22, we reported that North Korea planned to switch on a 3G mobile data network for visitors by March 1, providing for the first time an open Internet connection to foreigners in the nation. Now that the network is live, visitors in the country have begun uploading pictures from within to Instagram, giving a glimpse into the locked down nation.
The activation of its 3G network followed a law that was passed allowing visitors to bring their own smartphones into the country, new freedoms not bestowed onto the nation’s residents. The network is provided by carrier Koryolink, and while it provides visitors with a much-needed way to connect with the outside world, it doesn’t come without a hefty price tag.
The data network can be accessed by purchasing a SIM card that is available at the airport and at Koryolink retail stores for $70 USD. The card needs to be used with the visitor’s own smartphone, and is reported by the Associated Press as having a rate of 5 Euros per minutes for calls placed to the United States. Calls cannot be made using the SIM to South Korea.
For those more interested in the data connection aspect of the network rather than the voice capabilities, the service can also be used with a monthly-billed mobile broadband plan, which supports USB modems. For more Instagram pictures from within North Korea, check out the hashtag “#pyongyang”.