North Korea to allow foreigners to bring their mobile phones

Featured - January 21st, 2013
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Foreigners visiting North Korea can now take their own mobile phones into the country in a move that could see the reclusive state opening up after years of virtual isolation.

China’s official Xinhua News Agency reported Sunday that foreigners will be able to bring in their personal devices by filling out a form to provide their phones’ International Mobile Station Equipment Identity number with North Korea’s customs agency. Mobile Internet Service will also be available soon for foreigners in North Korea, Xinhua said.

Pyongyang previously required foreigners to leave their phones with customs until they leave the country, where information from the Internet and use of mobile phones is tightly controlled, AFP reports.

“We have tried hard to negotiate with the Korean security side, and got the approval recently,” a technician with the North Korean-Egyptian joint venture Koryolink said. Koryolink operates the country’s 3G phone network.

“It has nothing to do with the Google trip,” the employee said, referring to Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s controversial visit to Pyongyang earlier this month.

The Google delegation, which included former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson, called for a more open Internet and mobile phone use in Pyongyang.