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August 12, 2013

North Korea unveils new smartphone

With mobile data illegal in the country, it is unclear what they will do with it

By Ben Sullivan

North Korea has unveiled its new smartphone, an Android clone called the ‘Arirang’, named after a famous North Korean folk song.

North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un visited the factory to inspect the phones amidst a fanfare.

Mobile data services are still illegal in the country and, despite claims that the phone is North Korean, it is suspected that the phone is actually produced in China and then quietly shipped over the border so that North Korean workers can claim to have built them.

North Korean analyst Martyn Williams writes that the phones are "probably made to order by a Chinese manufacturer and shipped to the [North Korean] Factory where they are inspected before going on sale."

But what use these would be in a country where the technology is illegal remains unclear. The Washington Post reports that it is likely North Korean officials "may want to tamp down any internal North Korean demand for outside smartphones and get people to use these cheaper, officially approved phones instead."

"And North Korean demand for smartphones has reportedly been rising. Kim may hope that he can curb this demand by offering his own, easier-to-access smartphones, which are presumably designed to allow the government to monitor or at least prevent any infiltration of the national information cordon."


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