North Korea said to crack down on tourist SIMs

Dylan Bushell-Embling
telecomasia.net

The North Korean government has reportedly started enforcing the deactivation of SIMs owned by visitors to the country after they have left, to make it harder for natives to access the internet.

Travelers to North Korea must purchase a SIM from the nation's sole mobile operator, Koryolink, to access the internet on their phones. Under new rules, these must be deactivated after a visitor has left, Reuters reported, citing tourism sources.

Access to the internet is unrestricted to foreign visitors. This is in stark contrast to domestic subscribers to Koryolink, who can only access a tightly controlled and monitored domestic network.

The new rule is aimed at ensuring that phones cannot be left with residents, allowing them to freely use the outside internet. SIMs can be reactivated if a visitor returns.

A Reuters source said the order is believed to have come from the regime, and may be linked to a wider crackdown aimed at keeping information about the outside world away from North Koreans.

The regime's strict censorship curtain has been threatened in recent years by factors including data and videos being smuggled into the country in concealable storage devices, and radio networks being accessible over smuggled phones in areas close to the Chinese border.

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