Nothing says “Will you spend the rest of your life with me?” in North Korea quite like a cell phone.
In North Korea, there actually was no set tradition on wedding bands even though rings have pretty much been the default gift until now. However, cell phones have replaced engagement rings as the most popular gift to give someone when you ask them for their hand in marriage there. Having an almighty cell phone in North Korea, after all, is a status symbol. A source for Daily NK explained:
“Apart from women in affluent families, if you’re from a poor family or single, it’s hard to own a mobile phone … 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.”
These must be some pretty fancy phones then, right? Of course not! This is North Korea we are talking about. There are no iPhones or anything like that. North Koreans are all into the hottest phones … that we had around six years ago. Average phones cost about $200 to $300, but if you are really rich, you profess your love with a $400 Arirang touchscreen phone.
To give you some perspective, a kilogram of rice costs about $7.22 in North Korea. That same kilogram costs about $1.70 in the U.S., more than four times less. A phone, then, costs about the same as several months of food for a family of four. Middle and upper class North Koreans must definitely be rolling around in wons (NK’s currency) to afford the monthly.
The saddest part is that North Korea, or rather China, produces really cheap phones that must be approved by the government first — there is no mobile internet or international calling allowed.
Only about 2 million people out of a population of almost 25 million in North Korea own cell phones. Cell phones were illegal up until 2008.