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North Korea to provide insurance for drought, lost phones

North Korea's state insurance firm said new businesses were being introduced to meet the increased demand for mobile phone insurance and crop protection.

By Elizabeth Shim
North Korea to provide insurance for drought, lost phones
North Koreans wait outside the border crossing between North Korea and Dandong, China's largest border city with North Korea, in Liaoning Province, on May 30. Increased mobile phone use in North Korea has led to a demand for phone insurance to cover loss or damage, according to Pyongyang on Tuesday. File Photo by Stephen Shaver/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Aug. 12 (UPI) -- North Korea's state insurance company is offering policies that indicate mobile phone usage is growing in the reclusive country, and farms are seeking more protection in response to climate change.

On Tuesday, Pyongyang's Korea National Insurance Corp. posted on its website information on annual meetings held in each province. Issues of mobile phone insurance were discussed during the meetings, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported.

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The North Korean insurance firm said in statement that new businesses were being introduced to meet the increased demand for mobile phone insurance in Pyongyang and the provinces, South Korean television network SBS reported.

The mobile phone is becoming a central component of everyday life for many North Koreans, particularly for merchants who are on the road to sell wares around the country – but damage or loss of phones are raising the demand for insurance in the country.

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Egyptian firm Orascom owns a 75 percent stake in North Korea's main network, Koryolink, and offers services to 2.4 million North Koreans.

Other insurance mentioned include new policies for agriculture and protection plans for large-scale fruit farms by the Taedong River and in Kangwon province are being assembled, according to North Korea. The plans would provide protection against weather effects like "El Nino," that is resulting in increased drought, torrential rain, high temperatures and other factors that are hurting crops.

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North Korea previously has attempted to file claims for losses from European reinsurers, Yonhap reported, but the insurance corporation's activities as a fundraiser for certain government entities have created problems for it in the past. KNIC is under EU sanctions.

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Various international sanctions have proved to be heavy obstacles for the North Korean economy.

Last week, a New York marine insurance firm agreed to pay fines for violating U.S. sanctions against North Korea, Cuba and Iran.

The Navigators Group, Inc. admitted the company provided North Korea vessels with marine insurance and earned $1.1 million in insurance premiums between 2008 and 2011 from 24 individual policies for North Korea vessels.

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