Yes, you read that right! WiFi in North Korea. One of Pyongyang’s fanciest hotels: the Pottonggang Hotel has recently installed WiFi in its lobby café. Naturally, we had to check it out on our recent 10-day May Day tour in Pyongyang.
So how does it work? At 10 RMB for 10 minutes, you’ll get a shaky connection with most news sites working. We read about a recent DPRK missile test in foreign media only a mere hour after it took place and before the story had even hit the local news.
However, we found social media sites blocked in a fashion not dissimilar to China. An additional VPN on your device will get these working at the cost of slowing the connection down even more. However, everyone got a quick hello to their loved ones, a novel “live from Pyongyang” status update and an Instagram post out to their respective followers.
While this was a fun and very unique experience, we’ll be sticking to the old–school “digital detox” that makes getting off the grid and truly experiencing the sights, sounds and culture of North Korea such a rewarding experience when the screens are retired for the duration of a tour.
The soft and comfortable interior of the Pottanggang hotel really did have the kind of feeling one would get in countless cities around the world. Whether or not that is a positive thing, well, that rests in the eye of the user. It is certainly a very unique feeling to have in this part of the world.
Is WiFi in Pyongyang the end of an era? It very well could be the start of some big changes, so all the more reason to book that tour and see this last bastion of Cold War politics before Pyongyang starts to morph into every other capital city around the world.