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Report: 3 million mobile phone users in North Korea

Phone use is restricted to domestic calls and those suspected of having contacts outside the country are under surveillance.
By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Feb. 24, 2016 at 10:17 PM
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SEOUL, Feb. 24 (UPI) -- There are now 3 million mobile phone users in North Korea but the country continues to restrict access to the Internet and international phone lines.

The data from Amnesty International's annual report on the state of the world's human rights noted North Korea authorities continue to violate the rights of citizens in almost all areas of life, Voice of America reported.

The report includes details of human rights conditions in more than 160 countries.

While a country ranking was not provided, North Korea's human rights violations were rated among some of the worst.

According to Amnesty International, authorities continue to "arbitrarily arrest and detain individuals without fair trial or access to lawyers and family, including nationals of South Korea."

Families suspected of having members who left the country are under "systematic surveillance," the report added.

Mobile phone use is growing in the country of 25 million, but phone users are prohibited from accessing the Internet and making phone calls outside the country.

Defectors in South Korea have said their relatives usually keep an extra phone of Chinese make to communicate with those overseas.

But leaving North Korea by crossing the China border has become more difficult in recent years, owing to Kim Jong Un's tighter control of the border.

North Korea is isolated, partly due to economic sanctions that restricts trade flows, but in the wake of its fourth nuclear test and a recent missile launch, Pyongyang faces even heavier penalties.

South Korean news network SBS reported the next wave of sanctions to pass at the United Nations Security Council include bans against North Korea's National Aerospace Development Administration and the country's nuclear weapons development industries.

A source that spoke to SBS on the condition of anonymity said key North Korean organizations and individuals who are in violation of U.N. resolutions through their use of nuclear ballistic missile technology are the prime target of sanctions.

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