Instagram makes its way into North Korea after mobile data services are opened

Instagram makes its way into North Korea after mobile data services are opened

Instagram has made its way into North Korea today after operator Koryolink opened its mobile data services to foreigners (but not locals), following its announcement last week.

Fixed-line Internet is available for some in the country but the change now gives visitors and other foreigners freer access to the Web than ever. Jean H. Lee, who heads up the Associated Press bureau in Korea, is in the country today, becoming one of (if not the) first person to use Instagram, Twitter and other services from a mobile phone there.

Since Twitter no longer embeds images from Instagram here’s what you’ll see if you click that link:

ig n korea

Koryolink is jointly run by Korea Post and Telecommunications Corporation and Egypt-based Orascom. It has been offering 3G in the country for some time, having reached 1 million subscribers in February 2012, but the services had been limited in keeping with the government’s control of the Internet.

The opening of mobile data follows comments from Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt who, having visited the country in January, said that it would be “easy” for Koryolink to switch on the service.

The move is the latest in a series of developments, which include new regulations to allow foreigners to bring their overseas handsets into the country — that wasn’t the case for Schmidt, as his daughter Sophie explained in her fascinating account of the visit.

International roaming is still not possible however, and visitors must switch to a USB modem or SIM card, which cost 75 euro and 150 euro (US$100 and $200) respectively, according to North Korea Tech. The blog adds that data is charged at 150 euro for 2GBs to 400 euro for 10GBs.

Note: AP cameraman David Guttenfelder has posted a series of images from North Korea to Instagram, but they appear to be part of a year-long project to photograph the country using a camera, rather than via a mobile device. If so, that would make Lee the first to post from a mobile phone inside North Korea. Lee retweet this tweet which suggests that she certainly believes she is first. That’s significant given she is a colleague of Guttenfelder.

Headline image via Shutterstock

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