North Korean Postal Service

The North Korean Postal Service (Korean: 조선의 체신체계; MR: Chosŏnŭi ch'e*sinch'ekye) or Korean Post (Korean: 조선 우편; MR: Chosŏn upyŏn) is operated by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and Communication Maintenance Bureau, which oversees postal communications, telegrams, telephone services, TV broadcasts, newspapers and other related matters.[1]

North Korean Postal Service
Agency overview
JurisdictionNorth Korea
Parent departmentMinistry of Post and Telecommunications
North Korean Postal Service
Revised RomanizationJoseonui chesinchesgye
McCune–ReischauerChosŏnŭi ch'e*sinch'ekye
Korean Post
Revised RomanizationJoseon upyeon
McCune–ReischauerChosŏn upyŏn

Background and history

Letter box in Pyongyang

As with much of North Korea, internal information regarding the Postal Service is difficult to come by and what is learned usually comes from stories of North Korean defectors, the limited number of international business activities and a handful of North Korean research institutes.[2]

Prior to the famine in the 1990s, the telegram service usually took less than a week and the government provided bicycles to the offices to ensure delivery. However, during the famine (also called the "Arduous March"), postal delivery became more and more sporadic due to food, electricity and fuel shortages. In some cases it took over a month for a letter to be sent from the north of the country to Pyongyang, which is only a few hundred kilometres away[3] and, at times, it is rumoured that postal train employees would burn the letters in order to keep warm.[4]

In 1992, all higher-level officials were fired, with the minister and vice-minister and their families being arrested and sent to prison camps for embezzlement, and wasting funds buying broken fibre optic producing equipment from the UK.[1]

Since 1993, there has been a fibre optic telephone service available in places, which residents call the "light telephone". This has reduced the reliance of citizens on telegrams and letters.[1]

Postal system

Each province has a branch of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and each "Ri" (village) has a postal service office to deliver letters, packages and telegrams.[1] Agents of the North Korean Ministry of State Security are stationed at the Ministry's office to inspect mail and monitor residents.[1]

Despite having a postal system and other state-run communications organizations, word of mouth remains the most common way information is spread throughout the country.[5]


Postal services between North and South Korea do not exist. North Korea is under multiple economic sanctions which severely limit what can legally be sent to the country. In the United States, any mail is regulated by the Office of Foreign Assets Control and limits mail to first-class letters/postcards and matter for the blind. All merchandise, currency, precious metals, jewellery, chemical/biological/radioactive materials and others are prohibited.[6]

See also


  1. Moon Sung Hwee (2006). "An In-depth Look at North Korea's Postal Service". Daily NK. Retrieved Jan 13, 2013.
  2. Robert S Boynton (April 2011). "North Korea's Digital Underground". The Atlantic. Retrieved Jan 13, 2013.
  3. Demick, Barbara (2009). Nothing To Envy, Ordinary Lives in North Korea. United States of America: Spiegel & Grau. p. 79. ISBN 978-0-385-52391-2.
  4. Demick, Barbara (2009). Nothing To Envy, Ordinary Lives in North Korea. United States of America: Spiegel & Grau. p. 124. ISBN 978-0-385-52391-2.
  5. Scott A Snyder (May 17, 2012). "Is North Korea's Information Seal Starting to Break?". The Atlantic. Retrieved Jan 13, 2013.
  6. "Country Conditions for Mailing-Korea, Democratic People's Republic of". United States Postal Service. Retrieved 2013-01-12.
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