Technology October 26, 2012
Big News: North Korea Just Invented The iPad! Sort Of


North Korean state television made a big announcement this week: the reclusive country has just developed its very own tablet computer!

The machine is named "Arirang" after a famous Korean folk song.

Broadcasters on North Korea's national television network called the tablet "a next-generation device developed and produced by the government's own Pyongyang Information Technology Bureau," according to the Atlantic Wire.

The only problem? It looks like the tablet is actually a cheap iPad clone. And it was probably made in China.

NK News' Tad Farrell uncovered "striking similarities" between the "Arirang" (top) and a generic Chinese tablet:


But even though the hardware doesnt look like it came from North Korea, maybe the country's computer experts developed some new software?

Nope. The tablet is likely running Android, Google's mobile operating system.

That's what Google employees in Seoul, South Korea said when they saw a picture of a North Korean tablet in their local paper.


Since the operating system is open source, it's perfectly legal for North Korea to use it, as long as it doesn't install any proprietary Google apps like Gmail or Google Play.

There have been rumours about a North Korean tablet computer for months now.

Back in June, unidentified defectors from North Korea told South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo that the country was working on a tablet called the Samjiyon.

According to reports, the Samjiyon can't connect to the internet and doesn't have a camera - not too surprising, since the North Korean regime is doing its best to prevent its citizens from communicating with the outside world.

It does have games, a dictionary and maps, though. What more could you want?

So although the Arirang might not have all the bells and whistles that most tablets include, it does sound like it has the iPad and other tablets beat in one area: price.

Farrell says the Arirang's Chinese equivalent sells for between $40 and $120.

Although that might sound cheap, it's still well out of reach for most North Koreans.

Daily NK research suggests the average monthly salary in North Korea is around 4-5,000 won. That's $5.55.


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