Trends in the time of Corona: North Koreans increasingly gifting each other cell phone minutes
Benjamin Katzeff Silberstein
Daily NK reports on an interesting trend:
North Koreans in Pyongyang are increasingly sending mobile phone minutes to others as gifts instead of attending birthdays or weddings as the country continues to restrict face-to-face meetings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“With restrictions on movement, events and meetings due to the coronavirus, it is becoming commonplace for people to send others ‘mobile money’ as a celebratory gift,” a source in Pyongyang told Daily NK on June 8.
“Mobile money” refers to a service where users can exchange minutes with other mobile phones users, essentially allowing people to “top-up” others who do not have enough minutes for voice calls.
“Students in Pyongyang who come from areas outside Pyongyang can’t return home due to the coronavirus and are unable to see their friends,” the source told Daily NK. “While confined in their dormitories, students began sending mobile money instead of gifts for various celebrations at home or their friends’ birthdays, and this practice is spreading to other areas of the country.”
AS SIMPLE AS CAN BE
Sending mobile money is relatively simple. Anyone with a mobile money card, which is akin to a checking card for mobile phone charges, can send minutes to others by entering the phone company’s three-digit ID number, the amount to be sent, the phone number of the recipient, and the six-digit password on the card.
For example, a subscriber of Koryolink, the most popular telecommunications provider in Pyongyang, can transmit mobile money to another individual by entering *999* followed by the amount of funds to be transferred, the phone number of the recipient, the six-digit phone money card password and then “#.” Kang Song NET customers would enter *929* instead of *999*.
(Source: Jang Seul Gi, “‘Mobile money’: an increasingly popular way of gifting to others,” Daily NK, June 11th, 2020.)View Original Article