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New North Korean Phone Looks Like A Samsung Galaxy But Does It Repel Mosquitoes?

North Korean phones have taken a leap forward with the country announcing a “Samtaesong8” that somewhat resembles a Samsung Galaxy phone.

It is unknown whether western components including Samsung ones are hidden inside its case, or indeed whether it is another rebranded Chinese phone. Some previous North Korean phones such as the Arirang AS1201 were rebranded ones.

We also don’t know whether it has past exclusive North Korean phone creature comforts such as built-in mosquito repellent.

But it does come with eccentricities. According to the Korea Herald, North Korean TV are recommending that users wait one or two seconds before answering a phone call to avoid electromagnetic waves. Maybe the two second wait is to allow a government listening device to kick in and record the conversation.

We also don’t know whether the phones allow for encrypted conversations and texting, but given North Korea’s micro-control of its citizens and the lack of general internet access, you can bet all your North Korean Wons that it doesn’t.

The Korea Herald

Anyway, you can only access the North Korean Government internet and that is via the SIM, says the publication.

And don’t expect fast 5G access or speeds. Android Police, which detailed the operation of the phone network in March this year, said 3G remains the standard, although there is doubt about the network’s voracity as Huawei had stopped maintaining the Koryolink network in 2016. It also said the country had only three Wi-Fi access points in 2020.

Still, the Samtaesong8 does feature some western comforts such as two camera lenses on the rear. It may too have a fingerprint sensor – it took North Korea half a decade to adopt fingerprint sensors after they became available in the west. Biometrics are reportedly on other modern phones.

The Samtaesong8 shares its name with the Pyongyang-headquartered Samtaesong fast food restaurant chain. The name means “three huge stars”  – former Supreme Leaders Kim Jong Il, his father Kim Il Song and mother Kim Jong Sook. The hamburger and hot dog restaurant chain has been owned by current leader Kim John Un 77-year-old aunt, Kim Kyong-hui.

The Korea Herald

But it doesn’t appear that Kim Jong Un himself is an avid user of the new Samtaesong8. He has just been snapped attending the test firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile with what seems to be a foldable smartphone on the table in front of him.

You can bet more North Korean Won on him having full internet access and that his conversations are heavily encrypted.


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