According to North Korea Tech, which monitors technology in North Korea, foreign visitors now have to de-activate their Sim cards upon departure from the country.
They can buy cards which give web access on entry but, in the past it was possible that they could be left behind, still loaded with unused internet access for locals to use. That gap has been plugged.
So has the possibility that North Koreans near foreign embassies and the offices of international organizations could access the buildings’ wi-fi.
In August, foreign missions were told that “signals of regional wireless networks… produce some effect on our surroundings” and, therefore, their licenses were revoked. The ban followed a report on a South Korean website that demand for property around embassies in Pyongyang had risen because of the ability of neighbors to furtively make use of unencrypted wi-fi.
There is a continual game of cat and mouse between the North Korean authorities and people who want to talk to the outside world – for which there are fierce penalties.
Martyn Williams who runs the North Korea Tech monitoring site says, “It’s very difficult for the average North Korean to get near the South Korean border because that’s such a heavily guarded security area.”
“It’s easier to get near the Chinese border and there you do see people inserting Chinese Sim cards into their phones, or they’ll have smuggled phones from China.If they can get onto the Chinese cellular network, they can make calls to anywhere in the world. They can also access the internet without the North Korean government stopping them.
“One of the things the North Korean government does is heavily patrol the border and try to find people using these cellphones.”