We often get asked by our guests travelling to North Korea if it has internet, and if tourists can get online when they visit the DPRK. The answer, like most answers in North Korea, is that it’s complicated at best! Here’s our guide to internet in North Korea.
Does North Korea have internet?
The short answer is yes; we stay in touch with our business partners in North Korea through e-mail. That being said, internet and e-mail tend to be tightly controlled, and is mostly available to people who either have permission or need access for business. Generally speaking, your average North Korean does not have access to the World Wide Web.
So, there’s basically no internet?
Whilst most North Koreans are not connected to the international internet, there is an intranet known as Kwanmyong. This has a limited number of websites from the internet proper, as well as an internal email system and websites specifically for North Koreans. North Koreans with smartphones can access weather reports etc.
Can foreigners use the internet in North Korea?
YPT has two internet-enabled SIM cards through the local joint-venture phone network, KoryoLink. Through this phone we can call other foreigners (but not North Koreans) and also access the internet. Generally speaking, the internet available to foreigners is not only quite quick, but ironically has fewer sites blocked compared to China.
Can I connect to the internet when I am in North Korea?
There are currently no operators that offer roaming services in North Korea, and you will not be able to connect to the internet via your phone when you are there. It was previously possible to rent a KoryoLink SIM, but this quickly fell out of favor when a few people got too trigger-happy on Twitter!
How about expats in North Korea?
Expats have the internet-enabled SIM cards as well as home-based internet. Again their phones are on the international network, and cannot be used to call North Korean phones.
How will I cope without internet in North Korea?
Whilst the digital age has obviously brought about some great things, one of the worst elements is seeing people on tours glued to their phones, and posting about how great things are when they are not actually getting that involved. Take this opportunity and embrace a week without internet; who knows, you might end up having actual spoken conversations with people!