The lifestyle of citizens in North Korea has been of major controversy in recent news, and now the government is revoking even more privileges from the country’s natives — privileges that affect the use of beloved mobile phones. In the 100-day mourning period after the death of former country leader Kim Jong-il, anyone caught using a cell phone will be punished as a “war criminal.”
The ban is presumably to strengthen the power of new leader Kim Jong-un. It’s almost as if Jong-un wants to let his people know that he will follow in his father’s footsteps with strong, authoritative power — ergo, he’s no softy. The prohibition of cell phones also weakens the citizens’ ability to plan a departure from North Korea. Those who are caught trying to leave are often put in concentration camps as punishment.
North Korea is normally very restrictive of anything that gives its people access to the outside world. Very few people have access to the World Wide Web. Most are limited to Kwangmyong, an Intranet network with a few thousand pages of information from state departments. The country has a population of 24.5 million, yet only 1.1 million have a fixed-line telephone in their homes. About 700,000 (and growing) North Koreans use a 3G cell phone and are therefore affected by the 100-day ban.