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Dustproof phone news - Tough for North Koreans to go mobile

You need more than a tough mobile phone to feel safe making mobile calls and internet browsing in North Korea at the moment because North Korean authorities have told citizens that using a mobile telephone during the 100-day mourning period for "dear" leader Kim Jong-il will result in them being punished as "war criminals".

Given that any mobile use in North Korea should be carried out covertly, it is more than probable that black market tough mobile phones are highly prized – if a phone is waterproof, dustproof, shockproof and generally rugged, it has the advantage of being able to be placed in a greater range of unlikely hiding places.

The problem, of course, would be for North Korean citizens to get their hands on such a phone in the first place, despite the large amount of unregulated trade reportedly going on between North Korean citizens and enterprising Chinese living along the border.

It is perhaps easy to see why the North Korean administration has taken a tough line against mobile phones – with phones a key factor during events of the Arab Spring, they already have form when it comes to overthrowing dictatorships.

It is thought that the ban will have an effect on large numbers of the North Korean population. Experts estimate that close to 700,000 people use the country's 3G network.