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Scenes from Kim Jong-un’s visit to North Korea’s first “hand-phone” manufacturing plant

Reuters / KCNA
“Google Now is amazing—how did it know I wanted to play mini-golf?”
  • Adam Pasick
By Adam Pasick

Senior Editor

North KoreaPublished This article is more than 2 years old.

North Korea’s baby-faced supreme leader Kim Jong-un unveiled what is purported to be the Hermit Kingdom’s first domestically manufactured smartphone this weekend via a dispatch and several photographs from the state KCNA news agency.

The Arirang is a conventional-looking Android handset; details are scant but KCNA quoted Kim as praising workers “for developing an application program in Korean style which provides the best convenience to the users while strictly guaranteeing security.” After inspecting the phone’s touch screen “he said that a hand phone is convenient for its user when that part of the phone is sensitive,” and he “noted that these hand phones will be very convenient for their users as their camera function has high pixels.”

The website North Korea Tech reported that despite North Korea’s claims the Arirang is most likely made in China. North Korea’s technology sector is woefully underdeveloped compared to neighbors like China, Japan and South Korea, though it does have two million mobile subscribers through its lone mobile operator, Koryolink.

While no one aside from perhaps the NSA knows exactly what went on inside the May 11 factory where the Arirang handsets are “manufactured,” Quartz has made some educated guesses about Kim’s utterances, based on his frequent visits to inspect things.

Reuters / KCNA
“Next let’s build a phablet, about yay big.”
Reuters / KCNA
“Hang on a sec, there’s a rumor going around about me on Twitter and I should read it right away.”
Reuters / KCNA
“Guys! I’ve got it! A high-five app!”

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