Mobile technology etiquette guide issued in North Korea

Socially acceptable ways of using smartphones have been the focus of many studies and discussions lately.

Due to the exceptionally rapid adoption of mobile technology, there hasn’t been much of an opportunity for a standard of polite use to have naturally developed in the majority of countries, but in Korea – as with many other social issues – the government has taken it upon itself to create its own set of rules with regards to smartphone etiquette.

Etiquette while using these devices – which function in nearly every public place – is typically considered an important issue.

In North Korea, there are nearly 2.5 million people (representing about 10 percent of the total population of the country) that subscribe to the wireless services of the country’s carrier, Koryolink, which was first established in 2008. This number has stayed quite low when compared to the majority of the rest of the world as a result of the prohibitively expensive prices of mobile technology devices in the country. A BBC News story that ran last year reported that the average annual salary in the country is under $1,000, and handsets are being sold for a few hundred dollars at Koryolink.

Still, mobile technology is seen by the government as a growing trend, and they have decided to step into its use.

Mobile Technology Etiquette Guide - North KoreaA cultural magazine from North Korea was obtained by a news agency in South Korea, called Yonhap, which reported that the government sees smartphones as a rising trend and has now issued a range of etiquette lessons with regards to answering and placing calls on these devices while in public. All of North Korea’s official media is controlled by its government’s regime.

The translation provided by Yonhap stated that the etiquette lesson for mobile technology device use in public instructed that “Speaking loudly or arguing over the phone in public places where many people are gathered is thoughtless and impolite behavior.” It underscored the point that the increase in use of smartphones in today’s society has brought about a trend in which proper phone etiquette is being neglected by some people.

The article went on to provide a number of other instructions, including to highlight the importance of polite and appropriate greetings when using mobile technology, which they say is different from the use of landlines. For example, it stated that the device user may or may not have a caller ID function and, therefore, “one must not neglect to introduce oneself or offer greetings.”

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