February 06, 2023
Evergreen

North Korean Cellphones: Light in a Dark Society?

Just like the blinding lights of the Mansudae Apartments, cellphones are being used more for torch functionality than calls

Today in North Korea there are around 1.5 million mobile phone users, mainly concentrated in the capital city of Pyongyang. These phones can do nearly as much as you might an expect of an early smartphone from around 2008: apart having no internet access, they can take pictures, play music and, of course, make calls.  However, these are not the functions for which some North Koreans are reportedly falling in love with cellphones. This is because mobile phones in North Korea serve a far more brilliant purpose: they are the most reliable source of light in a dark world.

Kim Sung-man is from Pyongyang and left North Korea in 2012. He recently explained,