According to KCNA, the Communist state’s news agency, North Korea has miraculously begun producing its own smartphones. This is sort of semi-bizarre as citizens have little or no access at all to telephone networks or the Internet inside the sheltered police state.
Given the brand name Arirang, after a Korean folk song that praises the country’s founder, Kim Il-Sung, the phones feature a touch-screen and what is described as a “super duper high pixel” camera. Pictures of the smartphone emerged after North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited the factory where the devices are made, accompanied by a 30-piece brass band and other members of the Politburo, including Premier Pak Pong-ju and the chairman of the Assembly Presidium, the ever-jovial Kim Yong-nam. Kim made a point of saying that it was “nice” to see phones being made with local technology, adding that the mass-production of goods with a North Korean trademark would help instill national pride.
Skepticism about North Korea’s ability to produce such technology was widespread amongst computer and electronics geeks everywhere, however. The chief editor of the North Korea Tech web site, Martyn Williams, is certain that the phones are actually being made in China and shipped to the factory in Pyongyang, where they are inspected before going on sale. “Workers are shown with finished products, inspecting them and testing them but no actual manufacturing is shown,” he says on the website.
Whether the phone is actually Chinese or North Korean is a peripheral issue. The ability to make and receive calls is not, however. There is obviously some kind of system in place allowing the cadres, families and workers of the privileged elite to communicate because, according to a number of journos who went along on the Dennis Rodman basketball tour of North Korea, Kim Jong-un and friends had their phones going off all the time during a local team’s game against the Harlem Globetrotters.
Of course, for the average working stiff in North Korea, things may not be as good. Sure, the Note-Taker, calculator, clock, camera and voice memo components may well work, but that’s about it. A couple of empty coffee cans connected by string to your next-door neighbor might yield a better communication.
Meanwhile, according to a sports reporter from The Guardian, Kim Jong-un was all hot to trot when it came to showing off his phone to his new amigo, Comrade Dennis Rodman. The young dictator is very savvy with his apps, checking and showing off his portfolios, stocks and bonds and futures and a favorite porn site xhamster.com to the former pro basketball star. One young lady in particular, a stacked African American porn queen named Jada Fire seems to be young Kim’s objet du jour. The former Pistons, Bulls and Lakers rebound warrior was asked if he could “intercede” with the aforesaid young lady and persuade her to visit the Hermit Kingdom.
Meanwhile, the people of North Korea await the arrival of their first smartphones. The KCNA report announced that production began a “few days ago.”