Kim Jong-Un and the mystery smartphone


North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. AP FILE PHOTO

SEOUL – A picture of North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un with a smartphone has triggered fevered speculation about which brand is favored by the leader of one of the world’s most repressive nations.

The photo released by the North’s state media showed Kim presiding over a meeting with top national security advisers last week — a meeting believed to have been focused on Pyongyang’s threat to conduct an imminent nuclear test.

It also showed a black smartphone on the table next to Kim’s arm — as well as a lit cigarette in his hand.

“It’s believed that the smartphone belonged to Kim given that the device was placed right next to the documents he was looking at,” a Seoul government official told AFP.

The South Korean media gave the picture prominent coverage, opening a debate over the manufacturer, with speculation ranging between South Korea’s own Samsung, Taiwan’s HTC and iPhone maker Apple.

Samsung, the world’s top smartphone maker, was adamant that one of its flagship Galaxy models had not turned up across the border.

“It’s not a Samsung phone,” a company spokesman told AFP, adding that it looked more like an HTC model.

The Seoul government official said the picture had been analyzed by the South’s intelligence agency which also concluded that the Taiwanese firm was the likely manufacturer.

HTC declined to identify the device but said in a statement that the company appreciated the “support of all users”.

While North Koreans live in probably the most isolated and censored society on the planet, the country is not a complete IT desert.

Mobile phones were introduced in 2008 through a joint venture with the Egyptian telecom firm Orascom, and a domestic Intranet was launched in 2002.

But the one million normal cellphone subscribers can only phone each other, not outside the country, and the Intranet is similarly cut off from the rest of the worldwide web.

“Kim and his family members as well as the North’s political elite appear to use smartphones or other mobile phones capable of accessing the Internet,” said the Seoul official.

Kim, believed to be in his late 20s, took over the country after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011, completing a second dynastic succession of the Kim family.

Get Inquirer updates while on the go, add us on these apps:

Inquirer Viber

Disclaimer: The comments uploaded on this site do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of management and owner of We reserve the right to exclude comments that we deem to be inconsistent with our editorial standards.

  • globe_smart_sun

    sure na made in china yan gamit nya, kasi pag south korean or any other country made except china. alam ng mga north korean official na madedetect nila ang location agad ni kim jung un kapag gumamit sila ng ibang smartphone.

    • Pons Corpuz

      All Android phones even if its made in China, PRC or ROC, can detect the users’ location.

      • globe_smart_sun

        atleast yun china ay ka alyado nila kaya yun ang gagamitin nya.

  • gilbs72

    They put the wrong photo. Google nyo this piece of news, may ibang photo with the smartphone very clearly visible.

    Ito? Si Psy yata ito – gangnam style! :-)

  • Danyale

    Kim Jung-Un is using Huawei smartphone (from china), or perhaps Huawei has put up a JV inside NoKor to market its smartphone within.

  • virgoyap

    After Kim Jong Un who’ll take his place?

    • Kilabot ng mga Balahibo

       Kim Jong deux….

      Kim Jong Trois…

  • magarito

    may sarili silang mundo

  • patriotic_act

    its a cigar case

  • hd

    nokia 3310

    • Pons Corpuz

      smartphone nga eh. 

  • simplengmamayan

    para wala nman ako makitang yosi at cell phone yung sinasabing cellphone parang mic stand yun..

  • common_juan

    Cherry mobile gamit nyan!

    Made sa Tsekwa. Isanction nyo China para magkaalaman na.

  • generalproblem

    hehhee kayo naman di naman yun smart phone. walkie talkie yun ginawa lang kunyaring smart phone. paano magkakaroon ng mobile phone dun eh wala ngang cell site saka wala nga makain tao dun bibili pa ng mobile phone kaya sigurado ako na walkie talkie yun

    • Halo

       Di ka nagbabasa kasi. Sabi na ngang may 1 million celfone subscriber sa north korea. Celfone service started 2008. Palibhasa ngawa ka ng ngawa di ka naman nagbabasa muna

      • magarito


      • generalproblem

        nagbabasa ako dahil trabaho ko yan. it is just a joke. ngayon kung dika marunong umintindi ng joke eh wag kang ngawa nga ngawa kung di ka naman noth korean

      • globe_smart_sun

        ahaha ng wala ng maikatwiran itong BOBO na ito sinabi nalang na Joke! What a Loser!

      • generalproblem

        hay naku bahala ka s buhay mo bobo at ugag kapa what a loser prepaid sim card user kuah ka naman ng plan sa globe

    • globe_smart_sun

       may mai comment lang kahit kabobohan! tsktsk! masyado ka mapag paniwala sa nadidinig at nababasa mo, pano ka naka siguro na walang cellsite dun? baka mas hi-tech pa north korea kesa sa pinas!

      • generalproblem

        ay tanga kung dika marunong umintindi ng joke eh tumigil kana. isa ka padin na north korean

      • globe_smart_sun

        ikaw ang joke kasi masnakakatawa yun kabobohan mo ^_^

      • generalproblem

        your a joke stupid north korean bobo mo ugag

      • globe_smart_sun

        ahahaha your are such a moron! kaya mahirap ang pinas dahil sa mga nilalang na katulad mo! makitid ang utak walang alam hindi pinag iisipan ang mga sinasabi! baka matalino pa sayo ang kulisap ^_^

      • generalproblem

        hahaha oy prepaid sim card user kaya mahirap ang pinas dahil sa iyo. nagbabayad ako ng tax baka ikaw hindi stupido

To subscribe to the Philippine Daily Inquirer newspaper in the Philippines, call +63 2 896-6000 for Metro Manila and Metro Cebu or email your subscription request here.

Factual errors? Contact the Philippine Daily Inquirer's day desk. Believe this article violates journalistic ethics? Contact the Inquirer's Reader's Advocate. Or write The Readers' Advocate:

c/o Philippine Daily Inquirer Chino Roces Avenue corner Yague and Mascardo Streets, Makati City,Metro Manila, Philippines Or fax nos. +63 2 8974793 to 94


editors' picks



latest videos