You may now bring a mobile phone into North Korea from outside the nation as of January 2013. However, you will be unable to use your existing SIM card in North Korea. The local network, Koryolink, is the only network you are permitted to connect to using one of their SIM cards. Your phone must support the 2100MHz 3G frequency band and be a 3G WCDMA phone.
Pyongyang launched a 3G mobile phone network (Koryolink) in 2008, which currently serves 42 of the country’s major cities. Locals who can afford it and long-staying foreigners who submit an application utilize it extensively. Sim cards and phones may be bought at the International Communication Center, located at No. 2 Pothonggang-dong in Pothonggang District, just across from the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium, as well as at Pyongyang airport and certain hotels. Foreigners may now use 3G mobile internet through Koryolink as of February 25, 2013, but price is still unclear. Keep in mind that these SIM cards will only allow you to make international calls to a limited number of international-enabled phones in North Korea. For your SIM card, you may select from three options:
- For €50, you may get a prepaid SIM card. This includes the SIM card, which you may retain forever for future trips, as well as a modest amount of calling credit (less than €30).
- For €50, you may rent a prepaid SIM card for two weeks. This package also includes €30 in calling credit.
- For €75, you may rent a prepaid SIM card for a month. This package also offers €55 in calling credit.
Calling rates are as follows:
- China and South-East Asia: €1.43 per minute.
- Russia: €0.68 per minute.
- France and Switzerland: €0.38 per minute.
- U.K. and Germany: €1.58 per minute.
International calling is usually available from hotel landlines, but it is costly (€2 per minute as of February 2012) and all conversations are likely recorded and monitored.
Local calls from call boxes need the elusive 10 chon coins, although they may also be made from hotels and post offices.
Furthermore, your phone conversations in North Korea may be extensively monitored, so you should be cautious about what you say on such calls.
Internet access is restricted since just a few residents have authorization to use it. Most of the bigger hotels provide Internet connection, although it must be requested several days in advance. Provide advance notice of your needs to your tour operator or inviting party so that access authorization may be obtained. In the hotels, there are no public internet cafés or business centers with internet connection. Mobile internet is accessible via a local SIM card on Koryolink’s 3G network (see above), although specifics are presently sparse. Also, even if you have Internet connection, your traffic may be watched, so be cautious about what you write in your email, and be aware that a firewall prevents access to many websites that people outside of North Korea use.