North Korea’s First Smartphone: Really?

It's one small step for mankind but one giant leap for the dear leader as North Korea reportedly gets its first home-grown smartphone.

This new obelisk of mobile evolution in the isolated dictatorship appears to be an Android handset, according to the BBC. The "Arirang" smartphone is named after a traditional Korean folk song.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) says the device was shown off to leader Kim Jong-un during a factory tour. Mr. Kim is said to have boasted of the "high pixels" of the phone's camera during the tour.

He instructed factory workers on the tour to "select and produce shapes and colors that users like."

Pundits, however, are already casting doubt on the origin of the smartphone. The BBC notes that Martyn Williams, a North Korean technology expert [Ed note: a part-time job if ever we heard of one...], suspects that the phone can be linked back to a Hong Kong manufacturer. Williams believes the phones were probably shipped to the factory ahead of Kim Jong-un's tour.

It's not too clear how much fun you could have with a smartphone in North Korea anyway. The national cellular network, Koryolink, was launched late in 2008 and now has 2 million subscribers. Phones, however, are restricted from accessing the Internet and activity on the network is extensively monitored. [Ed note: nothing like the good ol' USA, right readers?]

So we probably won't be seeing any inappropriate "selfies" from the supreme leader any time soon, no matter how great the Arirang's camera is.

— Dan Jones, Mobile Editor, Light Reading

regulatorguy 8/16/2013 | 1:57:02 PM
How helpful is the North Korean Siri? ... probably sends you to a labor camp for asking anti-revolutionary questions like "what -- if anything -- is for dinner?" or "who is this Anthony Weiner guy and why does he keep sexting me?"
GarrettChoi 8/16/2013 | 1:46:03 PM
I heard... I heard it comes with a special version of Tiger Woods 2013 where you can play against Kim Jong Il, who gets a hole-in-one 11 times a round.

Too soon?
mgardner750 8/16/2013 | 11:58:00 AM
Re: Imported from China? Just like everyone else Unless you are Motorola. They decided it is a good idea to begin assembling smartphones in Texas. 
DanJones 8/16/2013 | 9:02:38 AM
Imported from China? Just like everyone else Seems strange not to just cop to importing it from China. Hardly like cellphones are getting built in the US or Sweden either...
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