North Korea Bars 3G for Foreign Visitors

March 28, 2013, By Sanjeev Ramachandran

North Korea was in the news a few weeks back for allowing foreign tourists to access 3G networks. The country is back in the news for reportedly cutting off mobile Internet service for short-term tourists.

The report comes from North Korea Tech who spied a notice on Koryo Tours’ website. The company, which holds its base in Beijing, arranges tours to North Korea.

“3G access is no longer available for tourists to the DPRK. Sim cards can still be purchased to make international calls but no internet access is available,” said the company.

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North Korea had, on March 1, opened up uncensored 3G data for visiting foreigners. Koryolink, a joint venture of Egyptian company Orascom Telecom Holding and North Korean state-owned Korea Post and Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC), had made services like Twitter and Skype, which were previously banned, available on the network.

Citizens of North Korea are barred from using the global Web and can access only limited amount of services like MMS messaging and subscriptions to Rodong Sinmun, the state-run newspaper. Now foreign visitors have also been barred from 3G access, and North Korea hasn’t given out any explanations either.

It would probably be because the government is apprehensive of people’s interest in tweeting, Instagram pics and other social networking and online applications that would be used by the visitors in a highly secretive country.

Just hours before the DPRK had suspended 3G access to foreign visitors, the North Korean state media had reported that rocket and artillery units have been ordered to be on the ‘highest alert’ by the the country’s military.

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