AsiaPress has detailed the fines North Koreans face if they get caught using Chinese mobile phones.
The use of such phones is prohibited in North Korea, but some citizens secretly use them to make uncensored calls to contacts in China, South Korea and other countries. Among them are a handful of North Korean “citizen reporters” that feed information to AsiaPress.
The agency says a fine of 1 million North Korean won is levied on anyone caught calling South Korea. The fine for a phone call to China is between 400,000 won and 600,000 won, it reported. Additionally, violators face up to a week in custody.
A second article by AsiaPress puts the real exchange rate at about 2,540 NK won to US$1 so the fine to call South Korea is around US$393. To put that a little more in context, the price of a kilogram of rice is about 2,000 won. That makes the fine for calling South Korea equivalent to the price of about half a ton of rice.
Use of Chinese mobile phones is possible in a region from the border to several kilometers inside North Korea. Authorities patrol the area with detector vans and attempt to locate people making secret calls.