Instagram, Twitter posts begin to flow from North Korean 3G network

This week, tourists (and at least one reporter) visiting North Korea began accessing the web directly from their smartphones, through the country's Koryolink 3G network. Associated Press journalist Jean H. Lee has been tweeting from Pyongyang since Monday, though she didn't get around to detailing the service until yesterday. Her tweet, "Hello world from comms center in #Pyongyang," is believed to be the first to come through the new wireless data service, which can be activated for the princely sum of €75 (about $100). From there, data rates range from €150 for 2GB to €400 for 10 gigs, according to a DailyNK report. (Those tariffs should come as no surprise to DPRK visitors, who often shell out thousands for week-long tours that include meager accommodations and constant monitoring.)

The Koryolink network, which was built in cooperation with Egypt's Orascom Telecom, marks a radical shift in policy for North Korea, which also recently began to allow tourists to enter the country with their own cellphones -- previously, visitors were required to hand over the devices upon landing in Pyongyang. With the exception of approved users (certain government officials, we presume), North Korean residents remain offline, however. For those authorized, access may be pricey, but considering that connectivity can provide peace of mind to travelers and their families at home, a data-enabled SIM seems a worthwhile acquisition for anyone visiting one of 3G's famous final frontiers.