North Koreans pay only 12 cents for monthly phone bills

November 4, 2014
A growing number of North Koreans use South Korean smart phones to use free mobile messenger, KakaoTalk.

The RFA said the North is providing the mobile phone service at such a low price to create a favorable business environment for North Korean officials.

By Lee Min-hyung

Mobile phone subscribers in North Korea pay about 12 cents (1,000 North Korea won) for their monthly service fee, Radio Free Asia (RFA) reported Monday.

They can get up to 200 minutes in free calls every month by paying the fee, according to the RFA.

“Considering the exchange rate in the reclusive nation, the monthly mobile service charges are almost free,” the RFA quoted a source in North Korea as saying.

In the middle of October, the North’s exchange rate was 8,200 North Korea won to $1, which means it costs only 12 cents to pay for the North’s monthly basic phone bills.

But if subscribers use more than the allotted 200 minutes of free calls, they have to pay an additional 80 yuan ($13) for every 100 minutes.

“Even though it costs hundreds of dollars to open a cell phone account in North Korea, the monthly charges do not come as a big burden to subscribers,” Yonhap News Agency quoted a North Korean defector as saying.

More than 2.4 million people are reportedly subscribed to the North’s mobile operator Koryolink, and the number of subscribers is rapidly increasing due to the cheap monthly fee, according to Yonhap.

The RFA said the North is providing the mobile phone service at such a low price to create a favorable business environment for North Korean officials.

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