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N Korea mobile phone subscribers top 1 million

No need to be lonely in hardline communist state

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Axis of evil North Korea now has a whopping one million mobile phone users some four years after the technology was first introduced in the repressive state.

Egyptian telco Orascom Telecom, which helped to launch a 3G service in the Democratic People’s Republic in 2008, reportedly revealed the figures in a regulatory filing.

Japanese newspaper Mainichi Daily News said that mobile usage in North Korea was about 90,000 in December 2009, rose to 430,000 in December 2010 and reached 810,000 in September 2011. While mobile penetration remains low – the country’s population is over 20 million – the stats are still pretty impressive given the nation’s economic and cultural isolation from most of the rest of the world.

The totalitarian dictatorship’s phone service is operated by Koryolink, a joint venture between Orascom and the state-owned Korea Post and Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC), with the handsets themselves believed to be imported from China.

It’s unlikely that the growing number of mobile subscribers is a sign of westernisation in the repressive communist state, however. Blocks on international calls and web access are the norm, according to a report on Radio Free Asia last month which said there are essentially four layers of mobile phone access in the country.

Users in the country can only communicate with people in China if they live within about 10 miles of the border, the report revealed.

Under the leadership of new chubby despot, Kim Jong-Un, Pyonyang banned the use of mobile phones last month for 100 days, ostensibly as a sign of respect while the nation mourns the loss of former leader and expert looker-at-things, Kim Jong-Il. ®

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