Over the past decade, there has been an increased number of digital devices in North Korea. Around 50 to 80 percent of adults may now have mobile phones, allowing them to text and call family members. Yet the use of these phones is highly controlled—data speeds are low, with devices capturing screenshots every few minutes and code that only allows government-approved content to be shown. And internet penetration is at nowhere near the same level.
“North Korean people cannot use it, not because of the infrastructure or not because of the country’s poor conditions,” says Nam Bada, the secretary general of Pscore and editor of the report. “It is only because of the governmental policy.”
A few dozen families with connections to Kim Jong-Un and some foreigners have unrestricted access to the global internet, while a “few thousand” people—including government officials, researchers, and students studying IT—can access a surveillance-heavy version of it, according to the report and previous research. North Koreans like Kim who are allowed some foreign travel, usually for business, can sometimes access the global web while abroad.
Mitch Haszard, a senior threat intelligence analyst at security firm Recorded Future, which has previously