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North Korea gets a modern staple: lousy airport WiFi

You probably won't want to depend on it for checking email.
Jon Fingas, @jonfingas
December 28, 2017
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Ed Jones/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea is continuing to slowly embrace modern technology, although not in the ways you might like. The AP's Eric Talmadge has discovered that Pyongyang's airport now has WiFi, with $2 getting you 30 minutes of online time. But just like many airport hotspots, it doesn't appear to be usable -- Talmadge couldn't get a valid login even after enlisting the help of a supervisor, and it had trouble opening a page in the process. It's unclear whether this was a one-time problem or reflective of poor maintenance, but the signal is definitely there.

Not that the airport's WiFi is likely to get a lot of use, or that you'd necessarily want to use it. When just having a device with active WiFi can frequently lead to jail time or fines, most North Koreans can't even consider using it -- if they could afford the necessary devices, of course. And even if you did get online, you'd likely be using a highly censored, tightly monitored and overall very limited connection. In short: while it's a notable gesture, it'd be much nicer if everyday North Koreans could enjoy unrestricted WiFi wherever they happen to be.

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