North Korea loosens control on Internet access- for visitors only

Here’s one more reason to visit North Korea: the government has finally allowed 3G Internet access for visitors.  The service is to be available through a North Korean company called “Koryolink.”  The kicker, though, is that the service will be available to visitors only, and the vast majority of North Koreans will still be left in the dark.  

The North Korean government is infamous for tight control and surveillance of their citizen’s lives.  Previously, only politicians and other elite dignitaries were allowed Internet access (many North Koreans wouldn’t be able to afford the service, anyhow.)  Even for these lucky few, Internet use was and will continue be strictly monitored, as it will be for visitors under this new ruling.  The North Korean populace gets some consolation, though: they will now, for the first time, be allowed to text and make video calls, and will also be allowed online access to the state’s main Communist Party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun.  

Google chairman Eric Schmidt was instrumental in this decision, as he visited the North Korean capital of Pyongyang last month.  Schmidt warned government officials of the dangers of leaving North Korea behind the rest of the world in terms in Internet accessibility.  He demonstrate how easy and affordable it would be to allow at least some Internet use to people within the country.