Details on bringing your cell phone to North Korea and using it there.
FAQ: Can I bring my mobile phone to North Korea?
Yes, you can! Contrary to the many outdated reports on the Internet, your cellular phone can be taken with you on most trips to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (‘DPRK’ or ‘North Korea’). Your cell phone does not need to be left at home nor does it need to be checked at the airport. Such was the case in the past, but no longer (as of more than a few years ago)! The current exception to this when crossing to overland from China for a day-trip or one-night trip to Sinuiju. Otherwise a cell phone can be taken on all trips visiting the capital Pyongyang or entering the country from other overland borders.
On arrival in North Korea, you do need to declare your phone along with any other electronics you might be carrying (phones, iPads, computers, etc.). It is possible that Korean customs will ask to inspect your electronic devices on arrival. We strongly recommend checking all of your electronics before departure to North Korea and removing any information and/or media related to Korea (both North and South), information or media in the Korean language, religious material, and/or pornography. North Korean customs may confiscate devices found to contain the above type of prohibited media.
FAQ: Can I use my mobile phone to take photographs in North Korea?
Yes. It is fine to take your mobile phone to Korea to take photographs.
FAQ: Will my mobile phone have connection in North Korea?
No. While on tour, your cell phone will not have roaming reception. It is possible to purchase a 3G SIM card for use on local KoryoLink network for foreigners at certain locations in Pyongyang, including the Pyongyang airport. This SIM card allows for access to the internet, international calls, and calls to other foreigners in North Korea. The startup cost is around 250 EUR and requires prepay for data usage, text messaging, and minutes. The phone will have reception in the capital Pyongyang and some major cities. Reception in rural areas can be spotty and depends on the region you are traveling.
Local internet connection is generally reliable and restrictions are less than Chinese networks. It is possible to access Google Products, foreign news sources, Instagram, and sometimes Facebook. Please note that there are restrictions on visiting South Korean website, anti-DPRK websites, and websites with pornographic content.
Other mobile phone advice
*If you are using your cell phone for photography or internet, bring a power pack along to charge your phone throughout the day.
*If you are using a local SIM card, you will need to register your phone each time you enter the country. When you register, make sure to purchase enough data for you entire trip and make sure to cover any previous monthly fees you may have incurred in your absences from Korea.
*Purchase a local Narae Card (foreign currency pre-paid card) so you can recharge your phone credits anywhere that accepts Narae Cards.
Updated 13 June 2018.