North Korean postal service

North Korean Postal Service
조선의 체신체계
Parent department Ministry of Post and Telecommunications
조선의 체신체계

The North Korean postal service (Korean: 조선의 체신체계; Hanja: 朝鮮의 遞信體系) is operated by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications and Communication Maintenance Bureau, which oversees postal communications, telegrams, phone service, TV broadcasts, newspapers and other related materials.[1]

A North Korean 1974 stamp depicting an Li-2 of Air Koryo in flight.

Background and history

Letter box in Pyongyang

Like with much of North Korea, internal information 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 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 may have taken over a month for a letter to be sent from the north of the country to Pyongyang, which is only a few hundred kilometers away[3] and, at times, it is rumored, the postal train employees would burn the letters in order to keep warm.[4]

In 1992, the Ministry's minister and all higher-level officials were fired, with the minister and vice-minister and their families being arrested and set to prison camps for having "wasted national finances".[1]

Postal system

Each province has a branch of the MPT and each "Ri" (village) has a postal service office to deliver letters, packages and telegrams.[1] Agents of the State Security Department are stationed at the Ministry's offices to open, read and generally watch citizens to ensure their loyalty to the state.[1]

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


Postal service between North and South Korea does not exist. North Korea is under multiple UN sanctions and additional sanctions from other countries 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, jewelry, chemical/biological/radioactive materials and others are prohibited.[6]

See also


  1. 1 2 3 4 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 Jan 12, 2013.
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