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Cellphones Communications

North Korean 3G Mobile Subscriptions Hit Half a Million 69

Posted by timothy
from the may-I-suggest-a-merger dept.
angry tapir writes "The number of 3G cellular subscriptions in North Korea passed half a million during the first quarter, according to the country's only 3G cellular operator. The Koryolink network had 535,133 subscriptions at the end of March, an increase of just over 100,000 on the end of December 2010."
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North Korean 3G Mobile Subscriptions Hit Half a Million

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  • Yay! (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gustgr (695173) <.moc.liamg. .ta. .anidnor.> on Saturday May 21, 2011 @01:14AM (#36199870) Homepage

    Great news, almost three times the number of people they have in slave camps [singularityhub.com]!

    • by Zero return (1244780) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @02:50AM (#36200220)

      And a quarter of the number of people that the US has in jail.

      • by Zontar The Mindless (9002) <plasticfish@info.gmail@com> on Saturday May 21, 2011 @03:38AM (#36200382)

        And yet the US has only 13 times as many people.

        • by Hultis (1969080) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @04:10AM (#36200490)
          According to statistics from Wikipedia, 0.83% of North Korea's population lives in slave camps and 0.75% of the US population lives in prison. One could argue that slave camps are worse than prisons, but the numbers are very much comparable.
          • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

            by Anonymous Coward

            One could argue that conditions in slave camps are worse then prisons?

            There is no argument.

            NK - they dont arrest you, they arrest you, your children, and your parents. (3 generations is the standard approach to dissenters)
            NK - there is only one punishment for breaking the labor camp rules, you are shot.

            I'm not disagreeing that the US justice and penal systems have significant problems. However there is absolutely no comparison to the horror of north korea.

            For fun - check out: http://movies.netflix.com/WiMov

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        And if you think the US treats its guilty badly, you'll be reassured to know that it treats those not found guilty no better [bbc.co.uk].

      • by thaig (415462) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @06:30AM (#36200982) Homepage

        And a quarter of the number of people that the US has in jail.

        These are political prisoners, not ordinary every day thieves or drug dealers.

        http://www.amnesty.org/en/news-and-updates/images-reveal-scale-north-korean-political-prison-camps-2011-05-03 [amnesty.org]

        Interesting how ready people are to rush to the defence of anything to bash the US. I'm a Zimbabwean in the UK, BTW and I regularly hear people defending Mugabe, presumably because they think he's left wing and anti American. There is some incredible loss of perspective, unfortunately but also demonstrates how little anyone really cares about "the poor people in X" when compared to making some political point at home.

        • by Hazel Bergeron (2015538) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @07:25AM (#36201136) Journal

          Many thieves and drug dealers are political prisoners. "Political prisoner" is just a euphemism for "does something which I think should be permissible but they don't". To a libertarian, anyone jailed for not paying taxes may be a political prisoner; to a militant Irish republican, The Maze was full of political prisoners; to a communist, anyone jailed for taking enough bread to eat is a political prisoner. AI has tried to use the alternative term "prisoner of conscience", but even that definition is dangerous, excepting those who condone "violence" but not really explaining what counts as violence and what counts as condoning it.

          As for "I'm a Zimbabwean in the UK", that's how you self-identify. To another Zimbabwean, you might be an exiled ex-occupier. The "incredible loss of perspective" is by the international Western media condemning Mugabe as if he were operating alone, controlling a whole country, while forgetting that every regime can only exist thanks to the support of a significant number of local residents. Some people would rather suffer extreme hardship than live in a country dominated by a few colonial landowners. Similarly, some people would rather live isolated under a military or religious dictatorship than under a US puppet government. Maybe you don't feel this. Maybe you prefer the security of living in the West. Maybe long lifespan, good nutrition and a warm house are to you of primary importance. Maybe you put yourself before some perceived need of your "people", whoever your people may be. But the first mistake anyone in the West makes in this sort of debate is to assume that everyone wants this too.

          So, recognising the nastiness Mugabe's men get up to, how about asking yourself: why is it that conditions were so bad in Zimbabwe that Mugabe ended up in power? What could those with power/money/influence have done to compromise? Consider how Britain handled the IRA: in the end, it had to mean listening to their grievances rather than continually dismissing their opinions and their belief in a right to some of your power.

          • by thaig (415462) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @08:44AM (#36201428) Homepage

            Hi,

            You're letting your politics choose bad friends for you and it's not a good idea because it means that without thought or consideration you choose to be on the side of some very bad people. Everyone has choices including the people in charge of the DPRK and my home too and if we wound back the problems of life far enough we'd find that the DPRK helped Mugabe, for example, or that Henry Kissenger helped Mugabe or that his mum wasn't nice to him or whatever. But I don't blame Mugabes behaviour on them.

            The way you are trying to compare two very different things to try and bash the US or mitigate the DPRK is a loss of perspective and it's usually the stuff one reads in government controlled newspapers in the kind of place I'm from. It relies on people not really knowing what immense freedoms there are in the civilised world and on people from the civilised world not having the tiniest inkling what it's really like to live in a police state. I wonder if you have ever felt that you can't say what you think at a party of friends because you're not sure whether some of them have relatives in the secret police? I have.

            This is why it makes me feel ill to see such, frankly and to be kind, silly comparisons. I

            Unfortunately, I have now put you in a position where you have to argue on the side of even more horrible people in order to try and win the argument. But if you do then you're just making the same mistake even more thoroughly. Meanwhile people who have courage or morals or a sense of decency that got them into trouble are getting beaten and starved quietly far beyond the reach of the BBC to exclaim on their woes and you just tried to make it sound ok.

            Regards,

            Tim

            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              (1) Mugabe and Kim are not my friends - just because I don't cheerlead for the West it doesn't mean I think that DPRK or Zimbabwe are suitable alternatives;

              (2) If you take the time to read my post you'll note that I'm concentrating on the supporters of Mugabe and Kim and suggesting that you study what they want rather than what you, Mugabe and Kim want. The fact that you put it in terms of "winning the argument" between A and B suggests that you're here to promote your interests rather than to increase unde

              • by jon3k (691256)
                (4) how about both? just be even moderately successful at your job and have fantastic healthcare. the problem with healthcare in the US is a lack of coverage due to cost (read: poor cant afford coverage), it has nothing to do with availability or quality. And while I think we definitely need to reform healthcare, I'm sure not having any problems in the mean time. Mod me down as a troll if you want, but that's the reality.

                So in summation, I think I'll take "freedom of health" (whatever that means) and
                • just be even moderately successful at your job and have fantastic healthcare. [...] it has nothing to do with availability or quality.

                  The rich have fantastic healthcare almost everywhere, regardless of underlying regime.

                  • by jon3k (691256)
                    Only if they are rich enough to travel to a developed nation for treatment.
          • by wisty (1335733)

            You are full of shit. A free marijuana activist who gets thrown in jail for speaking is a political prisoner. A deadbeat pothead dealer with free marijuana politics who happens to get busted is NOT a political prisoner. They may, in their addled minds, see themselves as victims of unjust policies, and perhaps they even are, but they are not in jail for their politics. They *might* be in jail *because* of their politics, but they had every choice to express their view, fight for their beliefs, but not actual

            • Is it a US thing to teach "political crime" to mean the same thing as "crime of expressing an opinion"?

              I guess that's a way for the US to claim that there are no political prisoners in the US, since, hey, the US (sorta mostly) has freedom of speech.

              To quote Bierce, advice is the smallest current coin. Activism may begin with speech, but when you have been brought up to think that's where it ends, it's no surprise that nothing changes.

              • by t2t10 (1909766)

                Is it a US thing to teach "political crime" to mean the same thing as "crime of expressing an opinion"?

                A political prisoner is someone who is in jail for opposing or criticizing the government.

                I guess that's a way for the US to claim that there are no political prisoners in the US, since, hey, the US (sorta mostly) has freedom of speech.

                The US probably has a few "political prisoners": people who rubbed some part of local or national government the wrong way and ended up in jail because of legal bias even th

                • Depending on what you stand for, you may well argue that committing a crime as part of activism is morally justified. However, when you get thrown in jail for that, you still are not a political prisoner, you're an activist who committed a crime and accepted the consequences.

                  I see. So a man who announces himself to be an unashamed homosexual, campaigns for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation then receives the death penalty for having anal sex with his boyfriend is "not a political prisoner [but] an activist who committed a crime and accepted(!) the consequences".

                  You're an idiot.

                  • by t2t10 (1909766)

                    I see. So a man who announces himself to be an unashamed homosexual, campaigns for an end to discrimination based on sexual orientation then receives the death penalty for having anal sex with his boyfriend is "not a political prisoner [but] an activist who committed a crime and accepted(!) the consequences".

                    He is certainly someone whose human rights are being violated and who deserves international support. He may also be a political prisoner, but that's really a separate question.

                    I mean, this may be har

                    • It may not be tactically appropriate to flout a law - you're not going to get anywhere good by walking around in Riyadh in a bikini - but a campaigner for gender equality who is arrested for walking around in Riyadh in a bikini is no less a political prisoner than one who is arrested merely for talking against gender inequality.

                      Your position appears to be that the only way to campaign is to speak. From your impotent, lazy view, campaigning by actually doing what you believe you should be able to do is not l

                    • by t2t10 (1909766)

                      Ah, the typical argument by putting words in people's mouths and misrepresenting their positions. Good luck with that.

          • by the gnat (153162)

            every regime can only exist thanks to the support of a significant number of local residents.

            It doesn't actually need to be that large a number, if they're sufficiently well paid and they control all of the weapons. In the absence of widespread satisfaction with a regime, widespread terror will do just as well, as long as there's no limit to how many people you're willing to murder (deliberately or through sheer incompetence).

            Some people would rather suffer extreme hardship than live in a country dominated

          • by t2t10 (1909766)

            Many thieves and drug dealers are political prisoners.

            No, they are not.

            "Political prisoner" is just a euphemism for "does something which I think should be permissible but they don't".

            A political prisoner is in prison because they criticized or opposed the government of their own country. People who oppose the government and happen to be in jail aren't political prisoners. People who actually commit drug or property crimes in connection with government opposition aren't political prisoners.

            For all its fau

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I'm surprised that the North Korean nomenklatura even numbers in the hundreds of thousands. This has the vague odor of propaganda about it...

  • by AmigaHeretic (991368) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @01:33AM (#36199916) Journal
    more 3G cell phones than light bulbs in North Korea, no?

    http://www.google.com/search?client=&rls=en&q=north+korea+satellite [google.com]
  • I follow KCNA's official news proxy on twitter & I see no mention of it. Did someone pick it up via a television broadcast or something?
  • Can you imagine the surveillance and tapping systems in place? I'm calculating a ratio line/surveillance person of approximately 1:1
  • It's hard to even know what this means. North Korea, the country that doesn't even has electricity at night [irvinehousingblog.com], manages to keep up a cell network, and a 3g cell network at that? What kind of internet are they accessing with 3G?

    In any case, it seems that half a million subscribers is also about half the size of the N Korean army. Maybe that's who uses it.
    • by Hadlock (143607)

      Bribing the people in charge of the people in charge of The People is a small price to pay to stay in power. The cost of the phones plus the cost of the network (only in downtown Pyongyang no doubt) is probably around $100,000,000. Not chump change, but cheaper than a new battleship, and streches your "absolute dictator bribe money" dollar a lot further than a year's worth of rice for the peasants who are too weak and poor to revolt.

      The same people getting phones now probably got color TVs in the 19

    • by xnpu (963139)

      I know Americans aren't very welcome in NK, and also barred from doing business by the US gov., but this doesn't apply to Asian's and Europeans. While there probably aren't 500.000 expats in NK, there are certainly 10's of thousands and they do appreciate having a mobile phone. I suspect many sign up for 3G as well.

    • by quenda (644621)

      Half a million no-connection tones?
      If it is anything like some US or Australian Networks, subscriber numbers don't mean they have a network capable of serving that many people.

      (I'm looking at you, Vodafone.)

  • by MrEricSir (398214) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @02:29AM (#36200138) Homepage

    North Korea is entering the information age? Perhaps the rapture really IS coming!

  • by RyuuzakiTetsuya (195424) <taiki&cox,net> on Saturday May 21, 2011 @03:04AM (#36200268)

    How can he get 500k North Koreans 3G service and AT&T still struggles to get me a usable data service here in the States?

    Dear Leader Kim Jong Il should run AT&T.

  • Paranoid, or not paranoid enough?
  • There's no way that many North Koreans are well-fed enough to hold a conversation. I refuse to believe it.
    • Gimme a break. A persistent problem in the food supply doesn't mean that everyone is starving.

  • by Anubis IV (1279820) on Saturday May 21, 2011 @04:15AM (#36200504)

    For reference, North Korea has a population of roughly 24M, so that's roughly one 3G subscription per 50 people. I know that news on North Korea is popular around here, but I'm guessing I'm not the only one that didn't have its population memorized.

  • I wonder how many of these 'subscribers' know they are carrying one.

    An other use might be to connect villages and army outposts to the central command, it is known the NK infrastructure is seriously deficient and like in many African places it's easier to set up a wireless network than to run lines.

    What ever it is used for, I don't believe the majority is for regular cell phones carried by private persons.

    • What ever it is used for, I don't believe the majority is for regular cell phones carried by private persons.

      If that was the case, why would Koryolink, the cellular operator, claim them as normal 3G signups? If it was military capacity that they for some reason wanted to make public, surely they would state it as such. If it's military capacity that they want to keep secret, naturally they wouldn't report on it at all.

      So, either they are proud enough of this small infrastructure achievement to announce to the world that they are not quite as poor as we had thought, or they are just making it up. But if it's a fabr

      • by gl4ss (559668)

        the real question is how the north korean press is reporting it.

        because yeah, making up bullshit about the advances in technological pickup would fit north koreas style, also it gives a signal that they're opening up. unless all the cells are in use by the state police. but it would be interesting to know if they're marketing cellphone existence and availability to the local masses there.

  • by egorF (983105)
    There is no internet on their cellphone network. Americans cannot go there, but many europeans report that.
  • Great Leader daily affirmations hotline is #1...

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