Until recently, foreigners were not allowed to bring their mobile phones into North Korea, while its citizens enjoyed little to no access to the Internet.
An apparent breakthrough came Saturday when the reclusive state said it was preparing to launch its own smartphone.
The official Korean Central News Agency said the North has produced the “Arirang”, its first home-grown smartphone.
KCNA showed pictures of young leader Kim Jong-Un testing the smartphone in a report highly praising the gadget and the factory where it was manufactured.
“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,” according to the report.
There are no further details available about the smartphone’s exact specifications although it appears to be running a version of Google’s Android mobile operating system.
Kim said he hopes the Arirang smartphone “will instill national pride and self-respect into the Korean people.”
But experts disputed the origins of the smartphone after the North unveiled a tablet which was found to have been produced in China.
North Korea has had an official mobile network called Koryolink, a joint venture with Cairo-based Orascom Telecom, since 2008.
Orascom claims it has two million subscribers in the country of 23 million people.
by Maesie Bertumen
Photo: Arirang like smartphones? Phil Roeder/Flickr