North Korea's few netizens have been getting creative, using unprotected foreign embassy Wi-Fi networks to access the internet. So Kim Jong Un's government is reportedly cracking down.
The North Korea Tech blog reports the country banned all use of satellite internet connections and Wi-Fi networks in embassies unless they receive approval from the State Radio Regulatory Department. “It would be appreciated if the Missions could positively co-operate in the current measures taken for the security of the DPRK,” reads a memo to embassies. Those who fail to comply could face fines up to 1.5 million North Korean won ($11,000).
The move comes after the North Korea Intellectuals Solidarity - a Seoul-based think tank founded by North Korean dissidents - released a report saying that many North Koreans were flocking to buy and rent homes in Pyongyang's residential neighborhood housing most foreign embassies. The reason? To access the often password-free Wi-Fi networks available there. “After a Middle Eastern embassy installed a strong router, college students in Pyongyang began walking around the embassy in order to use the Internet with their mobile phones,” reports The Diplomat.
While mobile phones in North Korea are sold with all Internet capabilities disabled, The Diplomat notes that some citizens obtain workarounds through travelers from China. As for the rest of the country, their online experience is largely dictated by what’s available on North Korea's Kwangmyong intranet system, which features a censored selection of content.