If you are planning to visit North Korea anytime soon, think twice. The country has blocked 3G cellular network access for foreigners. North Korea’s sole telecom operator Koryolink said in a message sent to its subscribers in the country that it had to turn off the service for foreigners due to an “Internet service outage from the local internet provider’s side.”
Why did Koryolink turn off 3G access?
The company did not provide a timeline as to when it would start providing 3G network access to foreigners. However, Koryolink promised that it would keep users posted once the service is back to normal, reports Reuters. It suggests that the shutdown may be temporary. The Internet is heavily censored for North Koreans. But foreigners can purchase 3G SIM cards to enjoy a largely unrestricted Internet.
It is still unclear why Koryolink blocked Internet access to foreigners. The move came on Friday, just a day after the Koryo hotel in Pyongyang caught fire. Though the restricted 3G access may genuinely be due to an outage not related to the fire, some wonder whether the two stories are linked. On Friday, North Korean officials arrested a number of foreigners trying to capture images of the Koryo hotel blaze.
North Korea tests anti-ship missile
Separately, North Korea announced Tuesday that its navy successfully test-fired its first anti-ship missile that can hit targets 80 miles away. Kim Jong Un hailed it as a “fresh milestone” in the country’s bid to strengthen its naval forces. The South Korean defense ministry confirmed that North Korea tested three short-range missiles with a range of about 100km off its east coast on Sunday.
Pyongyang is developing new missiles to replace its Soviet-era anti-ship missiles. Separately, the country has confirmed that it had executed its defense minister Hyon Yong Chol. Chol was reportedly executed with an anti-aircraft gun for falling asleep during a meeting with dictator Kim Jong Un.