The operative word is "carry". As in foreigners will be able to carry their cell phones but not be able use them so they will be as effective as a paperweight.
Despite this new development, tourists are currently neither able to roam on North Korea’s domestic KoryoLink network nor purchase local SIM cards, meaning that despite being allowed to carry their handsets, they are unusable.
Again, keep in mind image first politics. But Richardson and Schmidt went to north Korea and did not get to see or help get released Kenneth Bae. They saw the computer "Potemkin Villages" and I will bet they asked about cell phones. In fact they probably matter-of-factly made a comment along the lines of "you should let foreigners carry their phones." They were probably responding to a question such as how can we make people like north Korea and they casually responded with a "carry cell phone" comment. Of course the north Koreans parsed every word exchanged and someone came up with the idea that sure we can let foreigners carry their cell phones but we will not allow them to put sim cards in their phones and we certainly will not allow international access through their phones. So they were able to literally take the advice of Schmidt and Richardson. I mention this because Richardson at least should understand how the north will exploit anything and everything they can and of course interpret and spin anything said to their benefit.
EXCLUSIVE: FOREIGNERS NOW PERMITTED TO CARRY MOBILE PHONES IN NORTH KOREA
CHANGE IN NATIONAL POLICY COMES JUST DAYS AFTER GOOGLE CHAIRMAN'S VISIT
January 19, 2013
NK NEWS can exclusively reveal that only days after Google chairman Eric Schmidt’s visit to North Korea, tourists may now bring cell phones into the country without having them confiscated by immigration officials at the border.
Up until now, bringing mobile phones into North Korea has been strictly forbidden, with all handsets confiscated at customs and only returned on exit. Despite this new development, tourists are currently neither able to roam on North Korea’s domestic KoryoLink network nor purchase local SIM cards, meaning that despite being allowed to carry their handsets, they are unusable.
The news that cellphones can be legally brought into North Korea comes just days after Google’s Eric Schmidt and former New Mexico governor Bill Richardson’s returned from a high profile trip to North Korea. At that time, there had been no reporting on what had happened to the delegation’s cell phones upon entry to the DPRK. It is possible that they may have been the first group to benefit from the new policy. Either way, coming so soon after the Google trip, it can be read as a signal of North Korea’s possible softening of its stance toward communication technology, and its increased interest in understanding the ways it can engage with advancements in the field.
According to Richie Fenner, a tour manager at China based Young Pioneer Tours who reported the news today, explained that GPS enabled devices are allowed in the country. He told us:
When we were coming in on the train, they asked us to show us our phones. The customs official asked if the first one he looked at had GPS, which it didn’t, so he handed it back. But then with the iPhones and other modern phones when we told them they had GPS, he just handed them back and gestured that we just put them in our bag.
Thinking that the phones might just be sealed upon the group’s arrival to Pyongyang, Fenner explained that to his surprise the local guides explained a new policy meant that foreigners can now keep their cell phones in their possession. But that didn’t mean they could be used. Fenner explained, “Wthout a North Korean sim card, the phones are useless. I asked if we could get North Korean SIM cards and our guide said that it might be possible in the future”.
(Continued at the link below)