Over the weekend a series of stories from Pyongyang reported that visitors to North Korea can now buy SIM cards for the local Koryolink network so they can make international calls while in the country.
Thanks to an update from Young Pioneer Tours, which was the first to report on the new service, we now know how much those calls will cost.
Visitors have three options for purchasing a SIM card:
- A 50 euro (US$67) card that is valid indefinitely and can be used on repeat visits. An unspecified amount of prepaid calling is included.
- A two-week rental SIM card, which costs 50 euro and includes 30 euro of prepaid service.
- A one-month rental SIM card, which costs 75 euro and includes 55 euro of prepaid service.
And here are the calling rates:
- China and Southeast Asia: 1.43 euro per minute
- Russia: 0.68 euro per minute
- France and Switzerland: 0.38 euro per minute
- U.K. and Germany: 1.58 euro per minute
Young Pioneer Tours said it had not been able to confirm other rates.
The most striking thing about the rates is the large disparity between calls to France and Switzerland and those to the U.K. and Germany. There’s also a big difference in calls to neighboring Russia and China.
The SIM service for visitors was made possible by a change in the DPRK’s customs laws to allow visitors to bring in their own cell phones.
Previously, visitors were required to leave their cell phones at the country’s border to be picked up as they left.
To use the service, visitors will require an unlocked cell phone compatible with 3G WCDMA service in the 2,100MHz band. Most WCMDA phones should be compatible with the service.
Cellular Internet service is not available and users won’t be able to call local North Korean numbers due to security concerns. North Korea already operates a segregated telephone system with different classes of user restricted from calling other classes.