North Korea Cuts Off 3G Access For Foreign Visitors Just Weeks After Allowing It

Just weeks after first allowing foreign visitors to access 3G networks, North Korea has reportedly cut off mobile Internet service for short-term tourists, reports North Korea Tech (h/t Tech In Asia), which spotted a notice on Koryo Tours’ Web site. The Beijing-based company, which specializes in arranging tours to North Korea, said:

“3G access is no longer available for tourists to the DPRK. Sim cards can still be purchased to make international calls but no internet access is available.”

Foreigners visiting North Korea were allowed to get uncensored 3G data for the first time on March 1. Typically banned services like Twitter and Skype were available on the network, which was set up by Koryolink, a joint venture of Egyptian company Orascom Telecom Holding and North Korean state-owned Korea Post and Telecommunications Corporation (KPTC). North Koreans are blocked from accessing the global Web and allowed only a few services, such as MMS messaging and subscriptions to Rodong Sinmun, the state-run newspaper.

There’s no word yet on why North Korea decided to cut off 3G access for visitors, but it could be because the government was unnerved by the worldwide interest in tweets, Instagram pics, and other online missives sent by visitors to the highly-secretive country. The news that the DPRK has suspended 3G access for foreigners comes hours after North Korean state media said that the country’s military has ordered rocket and artillery units to be on “highest alert” to strike bases on the U.S. mainland, Guam, Hawaii, and other targets in the Pacific and South Korea. In response, Seoul said it hadn’t detected any warning signs of an attack, while the Pentagon said that U.S. military bases are ready to respond to “any contigency.”

Image from Wikimedia Commons