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DPRK allows foreigners to bring cell phones

中国日报网 2013-01-21 10:50

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Foreigners visiting the Democratic People's Republic of Korea can now take their own mobile phones into the country, media reported on Sunday, citing an employee with the operator of the country's mobile network.

A technician with Koryolink, the DPRK-Egyptian joint venture that operates the 3G phone network, told Xinhua News Agency that the move took effect on January 7.

A technician, identified as an Egyptian, said they have tried hard to negotiate with the DPRK security, and they "got the approval recently", adding: "It has nothing to do with the Google trip".

Earlier this month, Google chairman Eric Schmidt made a high profile visit to the DPRK. Speaking in Beijing after the trip, he said he told officials in DPRK that the country would not develop unless it embraced Internet freedom.

The highly secretive DPRK has a domestic Intranet service with a limited number of users. Analysts say access to the Internet is for the country's super-elite only, meaning a few hundred people or maybe 1,000 at most.

The Egyptian technician said foreigners need to fill out a form to provide their phone's IMEI - International Mobile Station Equipment Identity - number with DPRK's customs agency to bring in their personal device.

Previously, foreigners were required to leave their phones with customs and pick them up when leaving the country, the report said.

The technician also told Xinhua that foreigners using a phone based on the WCDMA 3G mobile standard can buy a SIM card in DPRK from Koryolink for 50 euros ($67) and make international calls.

Mobile Internet service will also be available soon for foreigners in DPRK, Xinhua said.

DPRK's 3G mobile network has 1.8 million users, Xinhua said, though beyond voice calls their options are limited to text messages and video calls.

Their phones cannot make international calls or connect to the Internet, while citizens of the DPRK and foreigners cannot call each other because of different settings on their SIM cards, Xinhua said.

Questions:

1. What is the name of the 3G network operator?

2. How much can foreigners buy a SIM card for?

3. How many users are on the DPRK’s 3G mobile network?

Answers:

1. Koryolink.

2. 50 euros.

3. 1.8 million.

(中国日报网英语点津 Helen 编辑)

About the broadcaster:

Emily Cheng is an editor at China Daily. She was born in Sydney, Australia and graduated from the University of Sydney with a degree in Media, English Literature and Politics. She has worked in the media industry since starting university and this is the third time she has settled abroad - she interned with a magazine in Hong Kong 2007 and studied at the University of Leeds in 2009.

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