WASHINGTON, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- North Korea has begun censoring and monitoring domestic cellphone calls, the non-profit Radio Free Asia reported.
The State Security Department's Bureau 1080 has been charged with observing legally used cellphones, and has the power to confiscate and censor the devices at will, Radio Free Asia, based in Washington, D.C., said. North Korea has a single government-approved cellphone service provider, Koryolink, whose service is available in 14 percent of the country's territory and to 94 percent of its population. Cellphone costs, though, in the impoverished country have left the service beyond the reach of most North Koreans.
Many cellphones in North Korea have been smuggled in from China, to be used near cellphone towers in China at its border with North Korea.
Citizens' cellphones are typically seized and checked for "politically inappropriate" content, a joint report by Johns Hopkins University's U.S.-Korea Institute and Voice of America said, adding all cellphone conversations in North Korea are recorded by government agencies.