North Korean Couples Tie the Knot with Mobile Phones


Young North Korean couples are choosing to mark their engagements with mobile phones instead of traditional engagement rings, reports the Daily NK.

According to a woman residing in the North Hamgyung Province, a mobile phone is the most commonly understood sign in North Korea that a young woman is getting married or is in a serious relationship.


“In small and medium-size cities, the top-ranking present for people trying the knot is the mobile phone, without questions,” the woman told the Daily NK. “Rings are the second most popular.”

Mobile phones have become a symbol of status and wealth among the younger generation of elites in North Korea as a basic mobile phone can cost as much as one-fifth of the average annual salary, according to the Telegraph.

“Apart from women from affluent families, it’s hard to own a mobile phone if you’re from a poor family or single,” the woman said. “Women have so much to invest in — like household goods, cosmetics and clothes — that it’s hard for them to think about getting one of those devices.”

She added that compared to domestic phones, South Korean handsets were more popular while smartphone were the most sought-after.

According to the Daily NK, the North Korean smartphone Arirang Touch Phone fetches $400 USD. Since 1kg of rice sells for around 6,500 KPW, it’s mainly the upper-middle class citizens who give their partners these phones as engagement gifts.

As of May last year, there are reportedly 2.5 million subscribers to North Korea’s mobile network, meaning that only one out of 12 citizens owns a mobile phone.

Photo courtesy of Roman Harak/Flickr Creative Commons