North Korea embraces Android, with its first smartphone

North Korea is treated like a pariah in the rest of the world, but that doesn't stop it benefiting from open-source software. Android is the latest example, with the country moving to create the Arirang - its first smartphone. 'Create' might be the wrong word, as it turns out.

The official Korean photos show precisely no manufacturing, leading to the suggestion it's Chinese-built, Korean-boxed. It seems the first site to break news of the phone's existence was Japanese. Running Google Translate suggests the phone is actually manufactured in North Korea:

Arirang is and has been produced in 5.11 factory in North Korea.

It might seem like a weird move for the notoriously quiet country to begin welcoming technology, but it could be justified after all. As we previously reported, there is a trend in the country, with citizens becoming more globally aware through piracy. By introducing a governmentally approved phone, there's the possibility of limiting this.

The Arirang derives its name from a folk song unofficially considered Korea's national anthem. There's no word on the phone's specifications, but we can't imagine many ROMs hitting XDA for it.

Source: Washington Post, Digital Trends, Daily NK & Ameblo (Japanese)

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It's all just show, like their supposed cell phone market is in the first place. It's very hard to believe that so many people in NK are using cell phones, let alone have the potential to use smart phones, when much of the population is starving and a kilo of rice costs less than $1. The only sources of numbers on cell phone use come from NK propagandists and are extremely suspect.

Vice went to NK with Rodman, and they walked into an office area full of computers and people in cubicles. Most of the people weren't even trying to use the computer and were just staring at the screen of the empty desktop. Some people had Google open in a browser, but were obviously "fake typing/working" (none were actually searching for anything) as if they didn't even know how to use it. One guy in the entire office of at least 20-30 people was actually using one of the computers, and that's the guy they were allowed to talk to. He was an NK government scientist.

As of November 2011, no mobile phones can dial into or out of the country, and there's also no Internet connection. 3G network covers 94 percent of the population, but only covers 14 percent of the territory.

Pre-paid SIM cards can be purchased by visitors to North Korea to make international (but not domestic) calls.

"Despite having a reputation for being technologically backwards, North Korea is introducing a government-approved Android-based smartphone"

But Android is technologically backwards. The question should be, which is the more technologically backwards, North Korea or Android? And will they pay a patent fee to Microsoft?

BTW: I loved 'kimdroid".

That phone will probably be totally controlled by the n Korean government and will see everything you do. They probably will have some remote access set up to copy info over to them also.

S3P€hR said,

Funny, but likely accurate. He'll literally probably take credit for a major role in it's invention, and even if he doesn't, the NKs will still thank him for their smartphone as if he did create it.

I'm curious what government-sanctioned/required additions were made to the OS. If they don't at least attempt to put in their own backdoors and spyware, I'll be quite surprised!

But does it run Crysis?

yeah yeah i know, the joke completely worn out...

that's what she said.

i'll go stand in a corner. having a senior moment.

panacea said,
But does it run Crysis?

yeah yeah i know, the joke completely worn out...

that's what she said.

i'll go stand in a corner. having a senior moment.

There there...

Decent looking piece of kit. I wonder what the network and coverage is like in NK? I think it's great to see a smart phone like this there! The more technology to enable their citizens the better! Politics aside, I think this is awesome. I just hope it's not the first of a slippery slide into materialism and gross over consumerism for their country as it has been in others. It would be a great social experiment to see what could happen when large corporations are kept outside so their don't bombard the simple-minded with their advertising. I just hope the government doesn't use them as tools of furthering their propaganda.