It's been nary a year since the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (aka "the North") got its very own 3G network
, and now the Daily NK
is reporting that -- no surprise -- cellphone use has taken the capital by storm. "Demand for mobile phones has been increasing" said one source. "Almost 30 percent of Pyongyang citizens seem to be using them." Still, this is the same country that refers to Kim Jong-Il
as "Dear Leader," so while things are certainly looking up for Pyongyangites, there are any number of restrictions. For instance, not just anybody with disposable income can pick up one of these things -- the devices are still off-limits to cadres in the Central Committee of the Party and foreigners. In addition, using two phones simultaneously is illegal, as well as using a phone in someone else's name. And you thought the T-Mobile store was a pain in the ass? When an individual or a group of workers buy a phone, they must get a stamp from their home village, and then submit an application to the Communications Center -- all this for the privilege of having the government listen to their phone calls. There is no word on what phone / phones are available, but we do know that one will cost you between $90 and $120. Charges are reportedly ₩3,000 (around $20) a month for eight hours of talk time, with an additional €15 (also around $20) surcharge if you go over. Service is currently only available in Pyongyang and Sariwon, but apparently the service in Sariwon "kinda sucks." So really, service is only available in Pyongyang. And you know what? If you're reading this, you're probably not in Pyongyang.