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North Korea Allows Foreign Visitors to Use their Own Mobile Phones

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The North Korean government has slightly relaxed its tight restrictions on mobile phones, and will now allow the limited number of foreign visitors into the country to bring their own mobile phones with them.

They need to register the handset serial number with the Customs authorities so that the mobile network -- a Korean-Egyptian joint venture Koryolink -- to grant access to the handset.

"If you want to make international calls, the WCDMA 3G mobile phone owners can purchase our Koryolink SIM card, which costs 50 euro," an unnamed Egyptian technician told the Chinese state news agency, Xinhua. However, that is for voice calls only - the mobile data service is still barred pending further approvals being granted.

Until now visitors to the country - mainly businessmen and a few tourists were required to leave mobile phones with customs officials and collect them when leaving the country.

"We have tried hard to negotiate with the Korean security side, and got the approval recently," said the Egyptian, noting that "it has nothing to do with the Google trip."

The country allowed a single mobile network to open in 2008, and now has around 1.8 million users. The phones are voice calls only and cannot connect to even the country's own restricted internet service, nor can they make international phone calls.

On the web: Xinhua

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Tags: koryolink  Korea