Does North Korea have internet? In short, yes North Korea does have internet, but much like everything else, the full answer is much more complex. North Korean internet is one of the most asked and least understood questions about the DPRK. So, what is the story with North Korean internet?
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?
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. There is though a very robust North Korean intranet, which we will get into now.
Are there North Korean websites?
North Korea not only has its own TLD, namely .KP but also hosts a number of its own, mostly government sites. There are a few particularly good news websites that are great resources for learning about the DPRK.
So, there’s basically no internet?
The big question, does North Korea have internet then? 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, do messaging and other internet type stuff, but it is essentially a closed system.
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.
This has though changed to an extent over time, and whilst tourists were previously allowed to rent SIM Cards, this is now largely just for those of us doing business in the country, which we will cover in the next part.
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!
There are though now a few hotels offering either WiFi, or very slow dial up. I remember being at Mt Myohang and taking about 20 minute to update my Facebook!. So again, yes it is possible, but for the most part not practical when you visit as a tourist.
Interestingly the Yanggakdo Hotel, among others offer an “e-mail” service, but this involves sending from a mailbox, rather than your own Gmail account! Still it does the job if you need to get an urgent message out.
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.
So, Does North Korea have internet
Yes it does, but much like everything else it does it in its own very unique way!
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!