The rogue state's only mobile operator, Koryolink, is about to hit 2 million subscribers.
North Korea’s only mobile operator, Koryolink, is about to hit 2 million subscribers, its CEO Ezzeldin Heikal told diplomats and NGO workers in Pyongyang this week. Koryolink launched services in North Korea in 2008 and took more than three years to sign up its millionth subscriber. It doubled that number in just 14 months.
That’s great for North Koreans—at least those who can afford a mobile phone. And it’s even better for Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media And Technology Holding, which owns 75% of the company and enjoys profit margins of 80%. North Koreans can’t do much with their phones: international calls are banned, internet access is limited to “a walled garden of scrubbed content taken from the real Internet”, and calls and texts are monitored by authorities.
Just who are these 2 million subscribers? The service is available in Pyongyang and another 115 cities, covering 14% of North Korea’s territory and 90% of its 24.4 million people. But in a country with average incomes of between $80 and $170 a month, only a fraction of North Koreans can afford it.