North Korea’s reported mobile phone ban is false, says the country’s only operator

Last month, the world was shocked as reports claimed that authorities in communist North Korea had banned the use of mobile telephones during the mourning period following the death of Kim Jong-il. However, it has emerged that the story is untrue and no ban is in place there.

According to a report from the North Korea tech blog, the country’s only telecom operator — Orascom — has confirmed that the reports are false and North Korean citizens remain allowed to use mobile devices.

The operator, which has just celebrated reaching one million customers, confirmed that “the information about North Korea is not true”. The validity of the reports had indeed been speculated on the SinoNK blog as recently as last week.

The story is plausible, given that a ban was introduced in 2004, but both blogs point out that it there are questions to be asked. Orascom is growing strongly in the country and its CEO made a significant visit to the country this month, which would be strange were his firm unable to do business there. While equally, a more effective measure would be to shut down the network rather than ask people to refrain from using phones.

The original report in the Daily Telegraph cited a source from research institute Good Friends which claimed the ruling Workers’ Party had issued the warning.

We’ve reached out to Good Friends for clarification, we’ll update the article with any comment that the organisation makes.