Koryolink changes numbers for Kim Il Sung’s birth year

Koryolink, one of two major
telecommunications providers in North Korea, has recently amended its number
assignment policy to incorporate Kim Il Sung’s birth year, Daily NK
has learned. 

Koryolink, a joint venture with the
Egypitan company Orascom, provides service for inland regions including
Pyongyang while Kangsung Net services more northern areas such as Yanggang and
both Hamgyong Provinces.

Areas serviced by
Koryolink, which includes Pyongyang, have phone numbers beginning with ‘191’ (191O-OOO-OOO), while areas
that are under the service provider Kangsung Net have phone numbers beginning
with ‘195’ (195O-OOO-OOO). But recently, according to a Daily NK source in the
capital, as part of a propaganda campaign to celebrate Kim Il Sung’s year of
birth–1912–the authorities have required that Koryolink add a ‘2’ to the end
of its ‘191’ numbers so that all citizens have phone numbers beginning with

Daily NK crosschecked this information with
an additional source in Pyongyang.

She added that this change will also apply to foreign residents.

The southern areas, such as South Hamgyeong
Province, have many Koryolink subscribers with 191 numbers, although the
northern areas including North Hamgyong Province are primarily serviced by
Kangsung Net, so phone numbers beginning with 195 are the norm there. Although
the services available through each provider, including access to the Party-run
publication Rodong Sinmun, are nearly identical, Kangsung Net is slightly
cheaper and thus preferred by customers.

Kangsung Net’s service comes with a base
rate of 200 minutes, and there is a charge of 30 KPW for exceeding this limit.
In addition, subscribers to Koryolink must use a foreign currency card in order
to purchase additional minutes. Kangsung Net allows subscribers to pay their
phone bills in local currency–an increasingly rare case amid a prevalence of and preference for foreign currencies.

Koryolink subscribers must pay a fee of
3000 KPW [0.35 USD] each quarter, which comes out to an average of 1000 KPW [0.12 USD] more than what
Kangsung Net subscribers pay. The first 200 minutes of phone calls are free,
but for citizens who run businesses or do other commercial activities, this is
often inadequate. As a result, many people purchase cards worth about
12,000-25,000 KPW [1.40-2.90 USD] to make phone calls.

Meanwhile, as previously reported by Daily NK, cell phone coverage for domestic networks now extends into China.

Kang Mi Jin
Kang Mi Jin is a North Korean defector turned journalist who fled North Korea in 2009. She has a degree in economics and writes largely on marketization and economy-related issues for Daily NK. Questions about her articles can be directed to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.