Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : August 18th 2013 Contents A38
Sunday Guardian www.guardian.co.tt August 18, 2013
SEOUL---North Korea s announcement that it is
mass producing a home-grown smartphone has
been met with skepticism in the tech industry in
South Korea and abroad.
The North s state media showed leader Kim Jong
Un inspecting Arirang phones at a Pyongyang factory.
The Korean Central News Agency s August 10 report
said the factory began manufacturing smartphones
"a few days ago" and they were already in high
North Korea has promoted the development of
science and technology as a means of improving its
moribund economy. It says it developed a tablet
computer last year and has its own Red Star operating
But access to the global Internet is severely restricted
and mobile phones used on the state-authorised net-
work cannot make overseas calls. The North s Intranet
gives access to government sanctioned sites and
works with its own browsers, search engine and email
programmes, according to South Korea s Unification
Factory workers in photos released by the state
news agency are inspecting and testing finished
phones but no manufacturing is shown, said tech
expert Martyn Williams on the northkoreatech.org
"Despite KCNA s reporting that the handsets are
made at the factory, they are probably made to order
by a Chinese manufacturer," said Williams, who
writes for PC World and other publications.
South Korean computer experts say North Korea
is strong enough in software technology to have
launched cyberattacks that disrupted banking and
government Web sites in the South but it lags in
hardware capabilities behind South Korea.
The 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce and the
Korean Peninsula remains technically at war. Since
then, the South has prospered and produced giant
corporations such as Samsung Electronics Co, which
is the world s biggest maker of smartphones, computer
memory chips and displays. The North s economy
has languished under socialist central planning though
the capital Pyongyang is an oasis of relative afflu-
North Korea has shown a persistent interest in
computer technology since the early 1980s so it is
conceivable that a country, which has launched long-
range missiles and tested nuclear weapons has also
developed a smartphone, said Kang Ho Jye, a research
fellow at Ewha Institute of Unification Studies.
But it might face difficulties in securing the nec-
essary components for mass production.
"If people believe it is impossible for North Korea
to make smartphones because it lags in technology,
that s not right," he said "If people believe it is impos-
sible because they are wondering how North Korea
supplied components, then that makes sense."
North Korea said the Arirang phone features "Kore-
an style" apps and can be used for "communications
and learning." It sports a high-resolution camera and
a touch screen.
Kim Mun-gu, a manager at a South Korean mobile
phone company, said the Arirang smartphone appears
to be using the Android operating system.
He said the photos aren t convincing as proof the
North is manufacturing the phones.
"It looks too clean for a factory. If it s a factory,
there should be components. There seemed to be
machines but I can t tell whether they are operating
or not," he said.
The May 11 Factory where North Korea says it is
producing smartphones has been promoted as the
country s hub for research, development and pro-
duction of high-tech electronics. Kim s previous visit
to the factory was in July 2011 to see what state media
called an automated production system for LCD tel-
evisions---an announcement also doubted abroad.
Kim, who became leader after his father Kim Jong
Il s death in late 2011, said making phones based on
home-grown technology "can instill national pride
and self-respect into the Korean people," according
to KCNA. (AP)
This undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and
distributed by the Korea News Service, shows North Korean Arirang smartphone.
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