North Korea makes cellphone usage a 'war crime' under 100 days of mourning

During the 100 day mourning period for Kim Jong-Il, citizens in North Korea are banned from using mobile phones, and those caught will be treated as 'war criminals'.

Recent reports suggest that citizens in North Korea are being warned of 'dire consequences' of mobile phone usage in the 100 days mourning period for Kim Jong-il.

Any citizens caught using their mobile phones, or trying to defect to China, in the 100 day period will be considered 'war criminals' and face severe punishments.

Kim Jong-il died on December 17th, and the nation is still within its lengthy mourning period. Many surrounding countries were put on alert following the dictator's death, with concerns over a potential power struggle in the country.

Considering there is an estimated 700,000 North Korean's using the country's 3G network --- established in 2008 --- the 100-day ban will significantly dampen communications. The Internet is severely restricted in North Korea, with only a handful of people having any sort of access to it.

The motivation behind this mobile usage ban may well be fear. North Korea is still in a very unsteady state, and there are reports of concern that there might be civil unrest after Jong-il's death.

Reports sent to mobile phones about the outside world, and as the Telegraph notes, the successful uprising's in the Middle East last year may fuel those flames.

With food supplies in North Korean apparently dwindling, many citizens are trying to defect. Already, around 23,000 people are estimated to have fled the country for South Korea, and there has been an increase in the number of North Koreans attempting to cross the borders into China.

Human rights groups are warning of the unfortunate consequences of these attempts, however, explaining that those caught attempting to flee or who are sent back from China face imprisonment in labour camps and execution for repeat offenders.