Although it is somewhat hard to believe, people in North Korea – arguably the most isolated country in the world, do have access to cell phones. In fact, local wireless carrier Koryolink, which has been operating within the country since 2008, has over 1 million subscribers already. In comparison, that figure stood at around 300,000 back in 2010, meaning that phone ownership is definitely on the rise. Sure, a million users may not seem like much, yet keep in mind that country's average monthly salary is roughly $15, while a cell phone may retail for up to $400. To no surprise, only the country's elite can afford to own one. As a side note, the population of North Korea is estimated to be around 24.5 million, meaning that 4% of its residents have the luxury to own a mobile phone.
The number of subscribers, however, does not take into account those who own cell phones smuggled from other countries. Some people take the risk and import handsets from China, which are then sold illegally for a fraction of the price for a Koryolink phone. Using these smuggled handsets, people can make international phone calls near the north border, where Chinese carriers have coverage.
Image courtesy of Eric Laforgue
source: The Wall Street Journal