N. Korea's First Smartphone Is Illegal to Use in N. Korea

Also, probably not actually made in N. Korea

By Ruth Brown,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 12, 2013 5:38 PM CDT

(Newser) – North Korea has launched its first smartphone. Just one catch: data services are illegal in the Hermit Kingdom, so it's likely not much more useful than a regular cellphone, the Washington Post reports. The phones also probably aren't made in North Korea. Though a new report by state-run news agency KCNA shows Kim Jon Un inspecting the factory where the "Arirang" phones—an Android clone—are supposedly made, a North Korean analyst thinks it's more likely they're being made in China then quietly shipped in. The report shows workers inspecting the finished phone, but no actual manufacturing, reports North Korea Tech.

Why lie? Probably to stop demand for black market phones from outside North Korea, and get everyone on the government-approved and monitored version, says the Post. Not that they'll likely be doing much illicit tweeting without, you know, data. The always entertaining KCNA reported that Kim "praised them for developing an application program in Korean style which provides the best convenience to the users while strictly guaranteeing security," and "noted that mass-production of goods with DPRK trademark can instill national pride and self-respect into the Korean people."

A woman uses her mobile phone near a screen showing the portraits of North Korean national founder the late Kim Il Sung, left, and late leader Kim Jong Il, right.
A woman uses her mobile phone near a screen showing the portraits of North Korean national founder the late Kim Il Sung, left, and late leader Kim Jong Il, right.   (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man)
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