North Korean women prefer mobile phones to engagement rings

Despite living under one of the most oppressive regimes in the world, people in North Korea are just like us: when they get engaged, they want a ring.

On the phone, that is. According to The Guardian, mobile phones are an increasingly popular engagement gift in North Korea.

The country’s brides don’t traditionally wear wedding bands or engagement rings (they have no access to Instagram, so what would be the point?) but they do want a little something for pledging to love, honour, blahblahblah for the rest of their lives. And for younger generations, that little something comes with a SIM card. A source in North Hamgyung province told the paper that in the country’s small and medium-sized cities, the top engagement present is now a mobile.

You might think the iPhone 6 is a status symbol – and a costly one at that. But in North Korea, mobile prices (which range from approximately £125-£248) are out of reach of most citizens, apart from rich families or people who are super good at saving, so owning one shows that you’re either well off or have someone who wants to love you forever and maybe share your data plan.

Only 1 in 12 people there own a mobile (compared to almost all of the UK – Ofcom says 93% of us have one) but numbers are growing, with South Korean handsets and the locally-made smartphone Arirang Touch Phone especially in demand. (The country lifted its ban on smartphones last year, although internet use is restricted to government-approved sites.)

And honestly? I don’t blame them. If I were planning a wedding, I think I’d be more excited by a box from Apple (or some of its competitors) than one from Tiffany. Sure, diamonds are forever, but gadgets are funner.

Image by Roman Harak via Wikimedia Commons.

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Diane Shipley