North Korea’s only 3G network provider, Egypt’s Orascom, froze operations in the hermit kingdom last month, cutting off some 3.5 million people connected to its local Koryolink services. According to a report by Newsis, citing Japanese intelligence sources, Orascom is pulling out of North Korea due to the regime’s continuous nuclear missile provocations.
Koryolink services have now been transferred to Byol, a state-run telecom operator established in 2015, according to a report by UPI.
Koyrolink was established in North Korea in 2008 as a joint venture between Egypt’s Orascom and North Korea’s telecommunications ministry. Orascom holds a 75 percent stake in the telecom provider while the North Korean regime owns 25 percent of it. According to a 2016 Radio Free Asia report, Orascom had earned $653 million over seven years of operation, but international sanctions prevented it from accessing the profits.
Orascom reportedly planned to continue its operations in North Korea within the boundaries of the sanctions imposed by the United Nations, according to Japanese intelligence sources. But the Cairo-based company later decided to exit from the country completely. Orascom is said to be discussing its withdrawal process with North Korean authorities.
According to Egypt Independent, Orascom is one of Egypt’s largest companies dealing in a range of industries including construction, railway, IT and banking. The corporation’s Orabank established a branch in North Korea’s capital, Pyongyang, in 2011, but closed it in December 2016, as per UN Security Council sanctions and the US Treasury’s financial restrictions on businesses in North Korea.