Quantcast
Latest Stories

N. Korea unveils ‘secure, homemade’ smartphone



North Korea file photo dated July 27, 2013. AP

SEOUL – North Korea, one of the most isolated and censored societies on the planet, has unveiled what it says is a domestically-produced smartphone.

Industry analysts say the “Arirang”, built around Google’s Android OS, is likely manufactured in neighboring China, however.

The existence of the phone, named after a famous Korean folk song, came to light during a factory inspection by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un at the weekend.

During the tour, Kim was given a detailed briefing on the “performance, quality and packing of the Arirang hand phone,” Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Some analysts suggest the “Arirang” is aimed at getting North Koreans to use an officially-approved phone that can be properly monitored.

While Internet access is virtually non-existent in North Korea, which comes bottom of any media freedom survey, the country is not a complete IT desert.

Cell phones were introduced in 2008 through a joint venture with the Egyptian telecom firm Orascom, which says there are now two million users in North Korea.

A domestic Intranet was launched in 2002 and some state bodies have their own websites.

It is a natural progression for an impoverished country desperate for investment, but in North Korea the economic imperative is always weighed against the potential for social disruption.

Subscribers to the sole cell phone system provider, Koryolink, can call each other, but not outside the country.

The Intranet is similarly cut off from the rest of the world, allowing its very limited number of users to exchange state-approved information and little more.

Access to the full-blown Internet is for the super-elite only, meaning a few hundred people or maybe 1,000 at most.

For all the regime’s efforts, the information barrier erected around North Korea has, in recent years, begun to lose some of its prophylactic power.

Smuggled Chinese mobile phones allow people near the border to connect with Chinese servers and make international calls, while re-wired TVs allow access to outside broadcasting.

The KCNA report on Kim’s factory visit noted that the young leader praised the “Arirang’s” developers for coming up with a product that “provides the best convenience to the users while strictly guaranteeing security.”

KCNA photos of the factory visit show workers with the finished phones, inspecting, testing and packing them. There are no pictures of an actual assembly line.

“Despite KCNA’s reporting that the handsets are made at the factory, they are probably made to order by a Chinese manufacturer and shipped to the factory where they are inspected before going on sale,” said Martyn Williams, who runs the North Korea Tech website.

Steven Millward on the Tech In Asia website reached the same conclusion.

“Possibly, the whole smartphone is made in China, and only the final boxing is done in the rather sparse plant that Kim Jong-Un toured,” Millward said.

In February, a picture of Kim Jong-Un with a smartphone triggered fevered speculation about which brand was favored by the leader of one of the world’s most repressive nations.

After ruling out an Apple iPhone or a Galaxy from South Korea’s Samsung, the consensus was an HTC phone made in Taiwan.


Follow us on Facebook Follow on Twitter Follow on Twitter




Recent Stories:

Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine 38 mins elapsed DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster 58 mins elapsed PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS 1 hour elapsed ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US 2 hours elapsed Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes 2 hours elapsed Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR 2 hours elapsed Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers 2 hours elapsed South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents 2 hours elapsed
Complete stories on our Digital Edition newsstand for tablets, netbooks and mobile phones; 14-issue free trial. About to step out? Get breaking alerts on your mobile.phone. Text ON INQ BREAKING to 4467, for Globe, Smart and Sun subscribers in the Philippines.

Tags: Android , Arirang , Asia , kim jong-un , Korean Central News Agency , Koryolink , Mobile , North Korea , Pyongyang , Smartphone , technology , World

  • w33k3nd3r

    Nag Smart phone pa kayo eh wire tapped lahat.

    • Descarte5E

      not really smart eh?



Copyright © 2014,
.
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
Advertisement Advertisement
  1. Did Deniece Cornejo lambast Vhong Navarro on social media?
  2. Mommy Dionisia sings ‘Riking Bull,’sends netizens ablaze
  3. DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  4. Tech company: Change passwords or suffer ‘Heartbleed’
  5. Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  6. Mommy Dionisia Pacquiao scores, takes over social media
  7. Philippines may watch ‘blood moon’ online
  8. Another reason to quit social media this Holy Week: your safety
  9. Heartbleed bug and what you need to know
  10. Memes flourish after Pacquiao victory
  1. Did Deniece Cornejo lambast Vhong Navarro on social media?
  2. Mommy Dionisia Pacquiao scores, takes over social media
  3. Nude and so dangerous
  4. Mommy Dionisia sings ‘Riking Bull,’sends netizens ablaze
  5. Memes flourish after Pacquiao victory
  6. Netizens react to Pacquiao’s victory over Bradley
  7. IT technician found guilty of defrauding firm of P130,000
  8. Philippines may watch ‘blood moon’ online
  9. Ireland’s wedding singer priest an Internet hit
  10. Samsung flagship smartphone goes on sale worldwide
  1. #RejectedBbPilipinas2014Questions flood Twitter
  2. Did Deniece Cornejo lambast Vhong Navarro on social media?
  3. Netizens fall in love with Crimea prosecutor Natalia Poklonskaya
  4. Mommy Dionisia Pacquiao scores, takes over social media
  5. Nude and so dangerous
  6. Why didn’t missing jet passengers use their cellphones?
  7. Mommy Dionisia sings ‘Riking Bull,’sends netizens ablaze
  8. Russia tries to curb Crimean prosecutor’s Internet fame
  9. Memes flourish after Pacquiao victory
  10. Netizens thank Capa for Lee arrest

News

  • Nebraska toddler gets stuck inside claw machine
  • Philippine eagle rescued by Army turned over to DENR
  • Gunmen attack Iraq military base, kill 10 soldiers
  • South Korea president shouted down by distraught parents
  • Classmates celebrating 60th birthday among missing in ferry sinking
  • Sports

  • Power Pinays smash India in Asian Women’s Club volleyball opener
  • PH youth boxers off to stumbling start in AIBA World tilt
  • Durant has 42, Thunder beat Pistons 112-111
  • Walker leads Bobcats over Bulls in OT, 91-86
  • Man City slips further out of title contention
  • Lifestyle

  • Pro visual artists, lensmen to judge Pagcor’s photo contest
  • ‘Labahita a la bacalao’
  • This is not just a farm
  • Clams and garlic, softshell crab risotto–not your usual seafood fare for Holy Week
  • Moist, extra-tender blueberry muffins
  • Entertainment

  • Jones, Godard, Cronenberg in competition at Cannes
  • Will Arnett files for divorce from Amy Poehler
  • American rapper cuts own penis, jumps off building
  • Jay Z to bring Made in America music fest to LA
  • Why Lucky has not bought an engagement ring for Angel
  • Business

  • ‘Chinese Twitter’ firm Weibo to go public in US
  • World stocks subdued, Nikkei flat on profit taking
  • Asia stocks fail to match Wall Street gains
  • Fired Yahoo exec gets $58M for 15 months of work
  • PH presses bid to keep rice import controls
  • Technology

  • Netizens seethe over Aquino’s ‘sacrifice’ message
  • Filipinos #PrayForSouthKorea
  • Taylor Swift tries video blogging, crashes into fan’s bridal shower
  • DOF: Tagaytay, QC best at handling funds
  • Smart phone apps and sites perfect for the Holy Week
  • Opinion

  • Editorial cartoon, April 17, 2014
  • A humbler Church
  • Deepest darkness
  • ‘Agnihotra’ for Earth’s health
  • It’s the Holy Week, time to think of others
  • Global Nation

  • DFA: 2 Filipinos survive Korean ferry disaster
  • PH asks airline passengers to check for MERS
  • Syria most dangerous country for journalists, PH 3rd—watchdog
  • Japan says visa-free entry still a plan
  • First Fil-Am elected to Sierra Madre, Calif. city council
  • Advertisement
    Marketplace