First few glimpses of North Korea via Instagram

North Korea instagram

Those brave and rich enough to enter the limited world of North Korean tourism will be glad to know that mobile operator Koryolink has opened its data services to foreigners visiting the totalitarian country. Yep, this means you’ll be able to use your smartphones and tablets to browse the Web in the country. While local North Koreans have a narrow access to Internet due to government restrictions, it didn’t take long for visitors to capture the scenes in the country’s capital, Pyongyang, and broadcast the images over Instagram.

North Korea instagram USA rocketThe photos come from Associated Press reporter Jean H. Lee who is currently in the country and can readily tweet and post Instagram photos via Koryolink’s service. In one photo, Lee published an image of a sign regarding nuclear tests, while another photo highlights the city skyline at night. Perhaps even more disturbing is a photo of a postcard for sale that depicts a fist punching down on a rocket with a shredded American flag. Lee is not the first Associated Press reporter to publish photos of life in North Korea however; reporter David Guttenfelder is also snapping photos in Pyongyang with his iPhone and has been importing them to Instagram since January. Comments on both the reporters’ accounts were a mix of awe and worry, thanking the Instagrammers for glimpses inside the closed country but also telling them to be extremely cautious.

Koryolink, which offers 3G coverage, reached one million subscribers last February but maintained limited data services (Internet is mostly allowed for government uses). While the data widening in North Korea gives visitor more ways to expose life inside the country, locals will only be able to enjoy text messaging and video chats. Of course, if they can afford the luxury of owning a smartphone in the first place.

Correction: An earlier version of this article stated Guttenfelder’s Instagram account contained photos taken with a traditional camera, not a mobile device.


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