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North Korea now letting tourists use cellphones for international calls

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North Korea doesn't allow many visitors inside its secretive borders, and those that can enter have been made to hand over their cellphones — until now. A technician with Koryolink, the country's only 3G mobile carrier, told Xinhua that tourists are now able to make international calls with WCDMA phones if they buy a €50 ($67) SIM card and register their handset's IMEI number at North Korean customs. Additionally, the Associated Press reports that Koryolink is operating a rental booth at Pyongyang airport. However, there's a catch: the SIM cards won't offer mobile internet access, and can't make local calls.

"Nothing to do" with Eric Schmidt's trip

The relaxing of rules comes after Google chairman Eric Schmidt made one of the more high-profile visits to the isolated country in recent years. The Koryolink technician insisted that the new rules had "nothing to do" with Schmidt's trip, however, saying that the carrier had "tried hard to negotiate with the Korean security side, and got the approval recently." Upon returning from the country Schmidt said that it would be "very easy" for Koryolink to switch on data access for its 3G network, and the technician agreed: "It is not a technical problem, we just wait for the DPRK authority's approval."

The Verge
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