updated 06:07 am EDT, Wed March 27, 2013
Tourists denied Internet access, permitted long-distance calls
North Korea is stopping tourists visiting the country from accessing the Internet over 3G wireless connections, reversing what some believed was a major step forward for the secretive region. The change comes just one month after the regime opened up its digital borders, with carrier Koryolink launching its mobile Internet service for visitors, as well as international calling, texts, and MMS messaging.
While access has been curtailed through the carrier for those visiting for the short term, long-term visitors and residents with government permission to access the Internet can still use the service. It is speculated by North Korea Tech that people uploading images directly to the Internet through Instagram, streaming video out of the country, and sending real-time messages was deemed too difficult for the country to control, compared with asking for the deletion of items on a locally-stored device. Government-approved users are in theory more careful about what they put online, due to a number of risks.
The service is said to have charged tourists around $100 for a USB modem and $200 for a SIM card, with data costing from $200 for 2GB up to $500 for 10GB. International calling rates are apparently more reasonably priced, at between $0.50 and $2 per-minute depending on the country.