This undated file picture released by North Korea
This undated file picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on August 11, 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting the production process of the new touch-screen mobile phone "Arirang" at the May 11 factory at an undisclosed location in North Korea. — AFP Photo
This undated file picture released by North Korea
This undated file picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on August 11, 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting the production process of the new touch-screen mobile phone "Arirang" at the May 11 factory at an undisclosed location in North Korea. — AFP Photo
This undated file picture released by North Korea
This undated file picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on August 11, 2013 shows a close-up of the new touch-screen mobile phone "Arirang" at the May 11 factory at an undisclosed location in North Korea. — AFP Photo
This undated file picture released by North Korea
This undated file picture released by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on August 11, 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspecting the production process of the new touch-screen mobile phone "Arirang" at the May 11 factory at an undisclosed location in North Korea. — AFP Photo

Seoul - North Korea, one of the most isolated and censored societies on the planet, has unveiled what it says is a domestically-produced smartphone.

Industry analysts say the “Arirang”, built around Google's Android OS, is likely manufactured in neighbouring China, however.

The existence of the phone, named after a famous Korean folk song, came to light during a factory inspection by North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un at the weekend.

During the tour, Kim was given a detailed briefing on the “performance, quality and packing of the Arirang hand phone,” Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Some analysts suggest the “Arirang” is aimed at getting North Koreans to use an officially-approved phone that can be properly monitored.

While Internet access is virtually non-existent in North Korea, which comes bottom of any media freedom survey, the country is not a complete IT desert.

Cell phones were introduced in 2008 through a joint venture with the Egyptian telecom firm Orascom, which says there are now two million users in North Korea.

A domestic Intranet was launched in 2002 and some state bodies have their own websites.

It is a natural progression for an impoverished country desperate for investment, but in North Korea the economic imperative is always weighed against the potential for social disruption.

Subscribers to the sole cell phone system provider, Koryolink, can call each other, but not outside the country.


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Ozair Akhtar
Aug 14, 2013 03:49pm

Really cell phones are the most competitive but a highly demand business now a days. You can now easily find many new brands of smart phones just arrived in markets all over the world daily just because you know the hardware and even the software on which it runs is also available too which makes it easier to use.