Can I bring my phone to North Korea? The short answer to this is that yes you can. Although not if it is a satellite phone.
Contrary to popular belief and the many outdated travel guides, you can bring your phone to North Korea. Prior to 2012, your phone would be either left at either the airport if you were flying into Pyongyang, or at Sinuiju train station if you were taking the train into Pyongyang. Nowadays, you simply declare it as part of your belongings at customs, and you bring it in as usual.
That being said, your phone is a media device, and if you have prohibited things stored on your device such as materials against the DPRK, their ideology, their leaders, or pornography – you risk having it deleted at best, or your phone confiscated at worst. Here’s everything you needed to know about using a smartphone in North Korea
Table of Contents
- Can I take pictures with my phone in North Korea?
- Regulations on taking photos in North Korea
- Will my phone have a roaming connection in North Korea?
- Can you phone North Koreans with your Koryolink sim card in North Korea?
- How does the cell phone network work in North Korea?
- Why were cellphones banned in North Korea?
- When did the rules change?
Can I take pictures with my phone in North Korea?
You can take pictures, selfies and videos with your phone in North Korea. There are regulations that abide to photography with phones the same as an ordinary camera. Most North Koreans have cell phones now, with cameras that they like to take pictures with!
Regulations on taking photos in North Korea
Photos of North Korean military, construction sites are strictly prohibited. If you are visiting the DMZ photos of the soldiers at the Joint Security Area is fine. During your tour your YPT and local Korean guides will give you the ‘go ahead’ and the ‘no- no’ zones for taking photos – it is crucial to follow their requests. If you have any questions during the tour please let them know and they will be happy to assist.
Will my phone have a roaming connection in North Korea?
Your phone will not be able to access any roaming network during your stay in North Korea. There is one telecommunication company in North Korea called Koryolink that offer foreigners working or living in North Korea access to 3G but do not have any roaming agreements with any other international operators.
Our YPT guides have access to a Koryolink sim card and are constantly connected to the internet, and able to make and receive international calls in case of an emergency.
Can you phone North Koreans with your Koryolink sim card in North Korea?
Whilst it is possible to access a North Korean sim card, foreigners and local North Koreans are kept on two different networks and are unable to directly contact each other.
How does the cell phone network work in North Korea?
Telecommunications in North Korea area is quite complicated, with the country having 3-4 cellular networks, not just Koryolink, which is often stated by the media.
Why were cellphones banned in North Korea?
Prior to January 2013 the answer to “can you bring my phone North Korea”? Would have been very different. North Korea previously had a cellphone network operated by Loxley of Thailand. There was an alleged bomb plot that involved use of a cellphone. Phones were then banned for ordinary folk, foreigners and locals alike.
There was also a certain degree of skepticism about the GPS element of smartphones, even cameras with GPS being banned in the country.
North Korea than did a deal with Erascom of Egypt and thus KoryoLink was born.
When did the rules change?
Thank you Facebook! It was 8 years ago this month that foreigners were allowed to bring phones into North Korea. We know because we were the first company to do so! We had been given no prior warning that this would happen and expected to hand them over like normal.
We were then told that we could keep them. Hurrah we can now take our phones into North Korea. And things have been the same since. To read about when we broke the story click here.
So, fear not! Having your phone in North Korea is no longer an issue, so don’t forget the selfie-stick, or to annoyingly take pictures of EVERY meal.