July 29, 2012
Mobile Phones Proliferate in North Korea
According to The Wall Street Journal, North Korea's booming cellphone market now counts more than 1 million subscribers, providing citizens with an increasingly potent channel for delivering accounts from the reclusive country to the outside world.
North Korea's regime prohibits residents from making international calls with the phones or accessing the Internet with them. Still, some residents appear to be sharing information using sophisticated models that come with video and removable memory cards.
"It's tantamount to releasing countless personal video cameras and recording devices in the nation, which could be used to get information out," said Jiro Ishimaru, chief editor of Rimjin-gang, a magazine featuring news and information from undercover North Korean reporters, in an interview.
... The prospect is still remote that handsets can become a catalyst for a civilian uprising in North Korea, as they did in the Middle East last year. But the trend appears to be weakening the grip on information by North Korean leader Kim Jong Eun's hard-line communist regime, Pyongyang-watchers say.
The regime has been officially encouraging mobile-phone use for four years. It owns a 25% stake in Koryolink, North Korea's only mobile operator.
:.. The phone business provides money for the cash-strapped regime. Chinese touch-screen models for sale in Pyongyang can run as much as $400.
Read full article.
Related article today - N. Korea disables key functions in new mobile phones: Report
According to The Straits Times, North Korea has disabled video camera and memory card functions in new mobile phones, a news report said on Saturday, in what appears to be Pyongyang's latest move to tighten control over the flow of information within and across its borders. The North also removed the Bluetooth function.
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