North allows visitors to bring in own cellphones

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North allows visitors to bring in own cellphones

North Korea, one of the world’s most reclusive countries, has started to allow foreign visitors to bring their own mobile phones into the country, a Chinese media outlet said yesterday.

China’s state-news Xinhua News Agency said North Korean authorities lifted the ban on foreigners bringing their mobile phones to Pyongyang when visiting, citing an Egyptian technician working for the North Korean-Egyptian joint venture company Koryolink.

The lift took place on Jan. 7, Xinhua said.

In order to bring their cell phones into North Korea, foreign visitors need to register with North Korea’s customs office and fill out a form to provide the office with the International Mobile Station Equipment Identity numbers of their phones.

In the past, foreigners were required to leave their phones with customs and pick them up when leaving the country.

Still, foreigners are not allowed to use the North Korean communications network, but are allowed to make international calls only with a 50-euro ($66.5) SIM card sold by Koryolink.

A mobile Internet service for foreigners is expected to open soon, the report said.

Some 1.8 million people are estimated to have been using third-generation mobile phones in North Korea since 2008, Xinhua said.

However, they cannot use mobile phones to make international calls or connect to the Internet, it added.

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