Kim Jong-un

'Arirang' handset produced using 'indigenous technology,' says state media

Funny thing about an open-source operating system -- it can show up in the most unexpected of places. North Korea has unveiled its own Android smartphone through its state-controlled KCNA TV news channel, which recently showed supreme leader Kim Jong-un visiting a "cell phone factory."

Dubbed "AS1201 Arirang" after a Korean folk song, North Korea says its smartphone is manufactured using "indigenous technology." Yet on the phone's screen you can clearly see the stock Android UI, as developed by Google in Mountain View, Calif.

Arirang phone

The KCNA said of Kim's visit to the factory --

He learned in detail about the performance, quality and packing of “Arirang” hand phone being made at this factory.

He highly appreciated the creative ingenuity and patriotic enthusiasm with which the officials and employees of the factory laid a solid foundation for mass-producing hand phones by building a new modern hand phone production process.

However observers have cast doubt on whether the secretive communist country is actually manufacturing the devices itself. The North Korea Tech Blog notes that it's more likely the "Arirang" is actually manufactured in neighboring China before being boxed up in the DPRK.

Of course the device is unlikely to be of much use to North Korea's impoverished population, most of which is forbidden from accessing the Internet due to strict controls on their media consumption and contact with the outside world.

Oddly enough, it's not the first time Android gadgets have shown up in North Korea, nor is it the country's only connection to Google. An Android-powered tablet was shown at a trade show in the capital city of Pyongyang late last year. And back in January Google chairman Eric Schmidt visited the country on what was described as a "private humanitarian mission."

Source: Sky News, North Korea Tech Blog

There are 100 comments

emaddox84 says:

Ha. Can't wait for some engineers to get a hold of one of these and find out what kind of spying software is installed on these phones.

fuzzylumpkin says:

Likely no worse than what we've got in Europe and the US. :/

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HalizDad says:

But here I can call Obama an idiot and don't have to worry about my family being shipped off to a "Camp".

Flyer00 says:

I'd be careful what you say online. The NSA is recording EVERYTHING!

JonK says:

... And yet he can still call Obama an idiot without having to worry about his family being shipped off to a "Camp".

Nahte27 says:

But the IRS might audit him ;)

LordLugard says:

...while his family is still NOT sitting in a camp somewhere.

Tower72 says:

This is very interesting that you mention this. I am VERY opinionated politically, and have posted many rants on Facebook. Few weeks ago I got a letter from the IRS saying I owed them money from 2011...I have NEVER been audited etc, and they "found" a mistake I made (due to lack of proper paperwork), and zinged me for over $500.00 lol.

jimrebello says:

It is for sure because of what you posted on Facebook. I suggest you start building your shack in the woods now.

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jfe55 says:

It's even more interestinger that I keep my head down and maintain a low profile politically, and last year I got much the same letter from the IRS telling me I owed them $1100! You'd almost think they were doing their job and auditing at random or something!

ryanmtech says:


cowboydroid says:

That's true...for now.

It's not like political internment camps have never existed in US history.

Nuwan says:

Lol agee

mssca says:

Of course because the NSA and CIA don't do that on us stupid democratic people right?

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emaddox84 says:

Well there is definitely a difference between scanning call logs for numbers associated with known terrorists and installing spying software on phones that could say, possibly record and report your conversations and location history.

One is questionable, the other is a blatant violation of privacy.

fuzzylumpkin says:

All of which are currently being done by the NSA and GCHQ lol :( they probably need to spy on phones less in NK... The only people who can afford/are allowed high-tech devices are rich and powerful. Which automatically makes you more trustworthy...

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-IRON- says:

Sounds like the US. Rich and powerfull equals trustworthy and smarter.

And as much would like to think so when the other party is in power in washington. The US government is nothing like north korea.

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cowboydroid says:

The only difference between the US federal government and North Korea is that North Korea gets their people to love their government the old fashioned way. The US government is a lot more charismatic, but no less intrusive and debilitating to human rights.

smotrs says:

In one group of countries though, there is an expectation of privacy in the DPRK I don't think they have that luxury. For all we know, the picture of Kim Yong they have to hang in their living rooms has a camera and microphone built into it.

Shadow Death says:

Just wait, it'll have the track records of their missiles. It'll launch off the shelves and fall flat on it's face.

Kim actually felt the US version of android was too intrusive and North Korea installed a few privacy options. Go figure

Trollolol says:

It has aosp browser. Lol... North Korean can access the "internet" now

the only site it seems to be able to access is the Official Kim Fan Page

icebike says:

There should be a lot to read there.

Note he has three (count em, 3) writers, ready to take down every word. The harder they try, the sillier they look.

Robbzilla says:

Well... the picture of his head DOES take up about a terrabyte of bandwidth...

Linebarrel86 says:

And to think that sometimes we have it bad paying too much for cell service or complaining about updates...

Living in North Korea has to be horrible...

starztruk says:

"Indigenous technologies"? Lol, North Korea is so original. I bet that thing is packed with spying software even worse than what the NSA is pulling off.

mssca says:

At least we know North Korea hurts people. USA on the other hand use a black guy to say they are not racist only to promote hate, religious propaganda and racism around the globe. I think North Korea case is clear, bad guys all around. USA on the other hand a wolf in sheep's clothing.

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ScottJ says:

Maybe you should move there.

ElPenguin says:

To the USA?

glazedfaith says:

So's your face


Typical anti-American troll

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Flyer00 says:

LOL -- "Indigenous technologies"?

So the OS is Google's and the phone is made in China ... what exactly has North Korea done here?

bryant163191 says:

Okay so let me get this straight. They created a missile and a Android device to control it? smh

Vacmfuzzy says:

Where do you think all those missing Chromecasts went? :P

wolfkeeper says:

Indigenous technology is a tunnel under the DMZ directly to a Samsung warehouse.

Zammo76 says:

What the specs of this bad boy?

-IRON- says:

They will probably say that Kim wrote the code and designed the most powerfull smartphone himself in one afternoon. And its 100 times faster than anyother smartphone.
Like scoring 18 on a PGA course

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olorin says:

No, Putin discovered the ancient alien Android technology while snorkeling in the Arctic ocean, dressed in only a speedo. He immediately modified it to run on the internet using Al Gore's original designs for the Internet (which Putin stole during a state visit). Chinese hackers were them able to use the Internet to steal Putin's new design, inventing the first truly smart phone. The Supreme Leader of the Universe (which mysteriously resembles North Korea) then revealed to China that he is the alien that seeded Smart Phone technology into our planet. Kim then took this technology he gave himself via Russia & China & planned it in the NSA labs, where, upon discovery, it was planned in Google labs, where Steve Jobs finally invented the smart phone. This is how North Korea deployed their sophisticated spy network, which poses as Facebook. Every time you like something on Facebook, you are actually liking the Supreme Leader, giving him the power he needs to continue his galactic domination. We're all just pawns...

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brendilon says:

It would have been funnier if it was running iOS. I'd love to see Apple pitching a fit over that.

romma says:

Apple has too much in common with N Korea though. They might be okay with it.

+1 to both

Johnny Z says:

Lol. Priceless

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15israellai says:


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Redacted says:

Kim Jong-Un invented Android... And cell phones.... And the internet.

Mayoo614 says:

He invented Chuck Norris too

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eahinrichsen says:

Not quite. Chuck Norris was just a weak, western imperialist wimp until Kim Jong-Un invented his beard and gave him great power.

NoNexus says:

Glorious Leader INNOVATES again!

Robbzilla says:

And electricity! Ben Franklin is da debil!

Mayoo614 says:

If they get Music before Canada, I'm gonna hurl something at the first target I see and rage-quit whatever I was going.

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Baleeted says:

I'd laugh, but then feel sorry for you. I don't quite understand how you don't have it yet.

I don't care what it is, I want nothing from north Korea.

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Tyler Paul says:

Wait, what's Pat the Baker doing there?
Did Glorious Leader bring him in to ensure his supply of snack cakes is uninterrupted?

jlunardi says:

Phone name sounds like a cockney saying "Harry Rang"



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quailallstar says:

Available on the Korean Play Store? Haha j/k

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jwyche007 says:

Whoever scooped me on the reddit submission you suck. This article is made of karma

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orlanka says:

Shut up and take my rice and first born!

bkrodgers says:

You win.

TheSapient says:

Does it have an SD card slot and a removable battery? If not, that is a deal killer.

xpyroxcorex says:

well at least there are a ton of other options for you on the north korean market. .... ohhh right

banzaiwolfe says:

They have some fancy CRT monitors back there!

-IRON- says:

I think I see a doc matrix printer back there

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So, the real question is... How quickly will they get Android OS updates, and will it be quicker that the US and Europe?

-IRON- says:

Probably faster than verizon

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ScottJ says:

They should call it the HTC Un.

eahinrichsen says:

Okay, this thread is over now.

zr2s10 says:

It's over when glorious leader says it's over!

NoNexus says:

Reminds me of the Penis phone that Venezuela put out a few years ago. The concept not the actual phone

MrJazz says:

Pay no attention to the man behind the curtain...

kamiller42 says:

Why are the military touring the phone factory with the Dear Leader, N. Korean Edition? What notes could they possibly be taking? "320x240. Very impressive."

straub27 says:

There's no way they are all really taking notes! I bet they are playing sudoku

Keith IsReal says:

I'll pass on this one.

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I want to see Kim benchmark it against the other Korean phones!

ioos says:

I heard that Kim Jong-un wrote the OS from scratch in a single weekend.

zr2s10 says:

They have to keep their citizens poor and uneducated. Otherwise, there will be NO ONE to believe this line of BS. Seriously, how brainwashed are these people to believe there leaders, and not revolt? I guess when all you know is crap, crap seems like a good thing.
And in regards to the NSA references, it's nothing compared to NK. We can access the internet. We can look up (pretty much) whatever we want. We can say (pretty much) whatever we want. We can badmouth our president and other leaders, and nothing will happen to us, unless we cross a(n admittedly vague) line, and make direct threats. North Koreans will end up dead or in prison camps until they are dead if they even appear to do anything we take for granted. Our government is far from perfect, but I'll take it over "glorious leader" any day.

This right here people!

I'm not sure what to say about this. Why now, North Korea? and Welcome to the 21st century!

dextorboot says:

What people don't realize is that's the entire production run for the phone.

stvo says:

Can anybody in North Korea afford it?

moises1204 says:

there you go apple! another mobile phone you can sue for having rectangular shape and maybe not so rounded corner, but yeah apple go for it!!hahaha.

Robbzilla says:

This just in: Kim Jon Un has just signed a deal with the US to give these out as Obamaphones! :D

JFetch says:

You realize how dumb that sounds since the program didn't start under Obama right?

troyboytn says:

Actually, it land-lines was started under a previous president.....all part of the same freebies for deadbeats package , but freebie cells was added to that package under the Obama administration.

I didn't realize that all poor people were dead beats... Please tell me more...

DavidJ726 says:

The 2nd box from the end isn't lined up with the other boxes.... Someone's probably gonna get shot over that. Bummer :-(

zr2s10 says:

lol, did you see "The Dictator"? *spoiler alert* He kept sending people to be executed, only to find out they were all sent to America, and he never really killed anyone. It was f'ing hilarious, and you only have to see his weiner once, which is a record for a Sacha Baron Cohen movie.

slywalk says: everywhere on the internet i go , i'll be hearing from the sheep about how ANDROID is helping north koreas nuclear war or something.

Derek1267 says:

Even North Korea knows stock is better

Nooo. Stock is cheaper... They don't have to develop additional software. ...

LabRat says:

When will this phone be available on Verizon?

JFetch says:

Just so everyone understands, you can't call outside of North Korea on cell phones, and nobody can call into it. It will be a nice tool for people knowing what is really going on inside their own country though.

Zammo76 says:

Checkout the photo "No Mr Kim you need to take phone out of box before touch screen work!".

TheDu9du says:

I don't care where you're from or how silly you run a country, as long as you got Android in your pocket!
Long live Android!

kctony says:

I pitty the poor NK sap who roots this bad boy without first obtaining permission from the supreme leader.

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zonyl says:

Add the certain words to his name and ill bet you get to the camp

Finally a real iPhone killer.

arutemauepon says:

I wonder what battery do they use on the phone