North Korea has issued a warning about the “negative impact” of mobile phones, blaming them for the spread of violence and pornography as the isolated state seeks to curtail illicit communications devices to control its population.
The Rodong Sinmun, a paper known as the mouthpiece of the regime, published an article citing a ban on phones in French classrooms and reports of technology being used to enable cheating in Indian exams to show that phones were spreading “decadent and reactionary ideological culture”.
According to South Korean newswire Yonhap, the paper quoted a foreign teacher as saying that excessive use of cell phones reduced students’ motivation and encouraged them to waste time.
“Erotic notices, fictions and videos, as well as violent electronic games, are spreading through the mobile phones without limits,” the newspaper added. “This means that mobile phones are used as tools to instill unhealthy ideas in minors.”
North Korea is deeply paranoid about the infiltration of both pornography and the Bible, which the regime fears may be used by foreign intelligence agencies to destabilise the country, and visitors entering the secretive state have their phones inspected for any ‘subversive’ material.
Since 2008, North Koreans have been able to use tightly controlled internal mobile networks, enabling them to make local calls or to use the Mansulmang app to download games like Candy Crush or to do some online shopping.
They can also access the heavily-vetted Mokran, a state-sanctioned answer to the Netflix streaming service, but calls or emails to foreigners must be registered with the authorities.
However, defectors who have left North Korea report that many people secretly watch foreign media, especially South Korean entertainment.
Analysts say that Kim Jong-un faces a rising challenge to keep his people isolated from the global internet age to sustain his cult-like status.
In an earlier interview, Andrei Lankov, a professor at Seoul’s Kookmin university, told the Telegraph that the regime faced was fighting against inevitable change.
“Information is getting in. Kim Jong-un is now taking it very seriously, he is doing what he can to prevent people from learning too much about the outside world. But he cannot fully stop it.”