North Korea is known for a lot of things: propaganda, prison camps, starving citizens. Manufacturing high-end electronics is not one of them. But who says a scrappy little country Dennis Rodman-loving totalitarian dictator can't dream?
North Korea is apparently busy "manufacturing" its very own smartphone, the "Arirang." Kim Jong-Un visited the Pyongyang factory, where workers are "manufacturing" the devices over the weekend and gave the burgeoning smartphone industry his stamp of approval. There are plenty of pictures of him looking it the things.
The word "manufacturing" deserves scare quotes, because none of the photos or reports coming out of North Korea show the phones actually being made, leading some to believe that they're actually built in China and shipped to North Korea for inspection. It's unclear if North Korea's "Samjiyon" tablet and laptop-for-the-people come from a similar supply chain. This would hardly be the first time North Korea was caught faking something, though.
Regardless of where they're built, the phones look legit enough. Photos of the screens appear to show them running a version of Android, and the state-run KNCA news agency boasts that the "touch hand phone" comes with a camera with "high pixels." But it's really how it's built that matters. The KNCA report continues:
Looking at the trademark “Arirang” inscribed on the hand phone, he noted that mass-production of goods with DPRK trademark can instill national pride and self-respect into the Korean people.
How nice to see hand phones being successfully produced with indigenous technology, he said, adding it is of educational significance in making people love Korean things.