Is This Photo the First Instagram from North Korea?

A billboard welcomes nuclear scientists to the secluded country.

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Correction Appended Feb. 27, 2013.

An image of a man walking past a billboard in Korean may very well be the first Instagram photo from a cell phone to be uploaded from the secluded country.

Jean H. Lee, head of the Associated Press’s Korea bureau, snapped this photo earlier this week during a visit to the North Korean capital, Pyongyang. Interestingly, the sign welcomes nuclear scientists that have come to North Korea to work in the poor and remote country, according to Lee.

(PHOTOS: A Rare Look Inside North Korea)

The photo comes on the heels of a recent announcement that mobile data will be finally made accessible to foreigners before the end of the month through government operator Koryolink. North Korean residents, however, will not be allowed to use the service. As of mid-January, visitors can now bring their cell phones into the country; before the policy change, they were required to hand over their devices at the border.

When Google’s Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt visited in January, he made the case for “free and open internet” in the Hermit Kingdom, arguing that virtual isolation will impede the country’s economic growth.

MOREAfter Successful Missile Launch, North Korea Threatens New Nuclear Test

An earlier version of this story incorrectly stated that Lee’s Instagram photo was taken on Feb. 14; it was taken Feb. 24 or 25.  The story also stated — correctly — that Lee’s image appears to be one of the first uploaded to Instagram using North Korea’s mobile data network. However, to clarify, it is not the first photograph from North Korea ever to appear on Instagram, as commentator Eddy_Choi notes below. AP photographer David Guttenfelder has been posting images of his own at instagram.com/dguttenfelder.

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