North Korea issues mobile phone etiquette guidelines

North Korean girls use mobile phones in a Pyongyang park Despite tight controls on their use, mobile phones are spreading

Mobile phone use in North Korea has become so widespread that state media have begun issuing guidelines on manners for using them, it seems.

An article in a quarterly culture magazine says the growing use of mobiles has brought a "tendency among some people to neglect proper phone etiquette", according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap. The problems highlighted are not too different from those outside the isolated communist state: "Speaking loudly or arguing over the phone in public places where many people are gathered is thoughtless and impolite behaviour," one stricture reads.

To cut down on unnecessary chatter, people should introduce themselves when accepting a call, even though on mobiles - "unlike on land-lines" - the caller's number is generally known, the magazine says. This, it adds, will avoid inquiries such as "Hello? Is it you, comrade Yeong-cheol?" It also suggests acknowledging right away that you know the caller, to save them the trouble of introducing themselves.

Since North Korea's first public mobile network was launched in 2008, the number of subscribers has risen to over two million. But international calls are not permitted, and mobile ownership is largely restricted to the elite.

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