Imports of smartphones from China into North Korea hit a record in 2014, according to a report by Yonhap News.
The South Korean news agency said North Korea bought smartphones worth US$82.8 million from China last year, according to figures from the Seoul-based Korea International Trade Association (KITA).
That’s almost double the 2013 number and in line with what is believed to be continued growth of North Korea’s cellular service.
The network is operated by Cheo Technology, a joint venture between the country’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, and uses the Koryolink brand name. In September last year, the More >
North Korea’s Arirang smartphone has been upgraded. Recent photos of one of the phones show a new model that features an updated version of Google’s Android operating system.
The phone was spotted by Aram Pan, a Singapore-based photographer who has made several trips to North Korea. He first posted them on his DPRK 360 Facebook page.
The Arirang smartphone first received publicity in August 2013 when the state news agency reported on a visit by Kim Jong Un to a cellphone factory. The “May 11 Factory” reportedly produced the phone, but it was later identified as based on the U1201 produced by China’s Uniscope Communication.
Egyptian businessman Naguib Sawiris has taken over as CEO of the parent company of Cheo Technology, which runs North Korea’s Koryolink 3G cellular telephone network.
Sawiris assumed the top job at Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT) after the former CEO, Ahmed Abou Doma, stepped down for personal reasons. He had been CEO for less than a month, taking the job on October 1.
Earlier in October, Sawiris made his latest visit to Pyongyang.
He arrived in the North Korean capital on October 12 and left two days later. During his trip, he met with DPRK Premier Pak Pong Ju at Mansudae Assembly Hall and, as is customary, More >
Subscriptions to Koryolink, North Korea’s only 3G mobile phone network, have just passed the 2.4 million mark, according to the latest figures from the operator.
The figure represents a significant slowdown in growth in the last year over the previous year and points to the first big spurt in subscriptions being over. The carrier might have to start working harder to continue attracting new users.
At the end of June, the network had just over 2.4 million subscribers, according to Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, the Egyptian company that owns 75 percent of the company.
North Korea’s sole 3G mobile network operator has moved to plug a potential gap in the country’s considerable national censorship regime.
The loophole could have provided North Koreans with unrestricted access to international phone calls and Internet access and relied on the prepaid SIM cards that have been available to tourists since February 2013.
The cards, purchased upon arrival in Pyongyang, provide visitors with access to a part of the 3G network reserved for foreigners and those in powerful positions.
Typically, North Koreans that can afford a mobile phone can only make domestic phone calls and have no international Internet access from their More >
Shops in cities on the Chinese side of the border are attempting to tempt North Koreans with cheap cellphones for use on their country’s mobile phone network, according to a report by Radio Free Asia.
The phones are on sale for about half the price they would fetch in North Korea, but are attracting few customers, the Washington, D.C., -based organization said quoting an unnamed source in the Chinese city of Dandong.
It said “candybar” -style phones cost about US$55, folding “clamshell” -style phones are about $80 and smartphones cost around $130.
A shop in Dandong, China, advertising cellphones that work on North Korea’s More >
North Koreans used cell phone messaging to independently organize a soccer group, surprising authorities, according to a new report on cell phone usage in the country.
The soccer club was apparently organized by a group at Kim Chaek University of Technology in Pyongyang, and could be one of the reasons that pushed authorities to launch a regional cell phone service that was more restrictive than previous offerings, said the report by Kim Yonho, a journalist with the Voice of America.
The report, “Cell Phones in North Korea,” was earlier this month by the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, the Johns Hopkins School of International More >
A smartphone that was lost in South Korea has apparently surfaced in Pyongyang.
A South Korean Internet used posted a screenshot from Google’s Android Device Manager that shows the phone on Sungri Street (승리거리) in Pyongyang. The page says the location accuracy is 75 meters.
Curtis Melvin, author of North Korea Economy Watch and authority on places in the DPRK, told me Sungri Street runs through the central district in Pyongyang. It’s marked on Google Maps and is the road that dissects Kim Il Sung Square.
It hasn’t been possible to verify the story, but the SHV-E210S is the model name of a Samsung Galaxy More >
Orascom Telecom Media and Technology (OTMT), the Egyptian company that owns a 75 percent stake in North Korea’s on 3G cellular network operator, has apparently been doing very well in the North Korean market.
A recent audit report by Deloitte says the company’s assets in North Korea stand at US$512 million, of which $422 million is sitting in cash. The figures were obtained using the official exchange rate on September 30. Due to currency controls imposed by the government, that cash isn’t readily available to OTMT to withdraw from the country.
“North Korea has implemented currency control restrictions and, in particular, rules More >