North Korea Releases its Third iPad Clone

Pyongyang claims they built it themselves, but a quick analysis would suggest otherwise...
October 25th, 2012

North Korea state television revealed a new Tablet computer Monday, named “Arirang”, after a famous Korean folk song.  But while North Korean TV broadcasters claim the device to be developed and produced by its Pyongyang Information Technology Bureau, a close look at the Chinese market reveals striking similarities between the new DPRK made device and a generic Chinese iPad clone.

The “Arirang”, shown with keyboard add-on

Having announced a number of tablet devices in recent months, North Korea’s tech factories recently made international news in announcing the Samjiyon tablet, shown by NK Tech to be running on a localized variant of  Android, and Achim, famously pictured during “development” stages at a seemingly empty factory.

In the latest broadcast North Korean media show local men testing out the new “Arirang” device alongside what appears to also be (the larger) “Samjiyon” tablet.

“Easy to carry around and convenient to use”, the tablet is reported by state media as “contributing to the country’s science technology distribution, culture, and education projects.”  And following recent changes in North Korean law that now mandate 12 years of education, broadcasters were eager to show how the touchscreen display could help in the learning process, offering children the ability to learn how to read and write the Korean language.

As researcher Ri Chol Su explained,  “Children who can read and write will be able to type in letters by themselves with keyboards and [electronic] pen as they use the “Chosun Word Office Process” program (조선글사무처리프로그람), where they can use fonts unique to our language and various colors fitting a child’s sensitivity.”

However, close up shots of the Arirang reveal striking similarities with a generic Chinese device produced at low cost in factories in Shenzhen.  Offering bulk customers custom device branding, packaging and even core software installs, Chinese manufactures offer a cost-effective solution for anyone seeking to release their own branded tablet device.

Striking similarities between the “Arirang” (top) and a Chinese clone

Shown with what looks to be an indigenously designed operating system, analysis of North Korea’s coverage of the recently showcased devices show that they are likely running a variant of Google’s open-source Android operating system.

Familiar Android icons, adapted for the North Korean market (here shown on the Samjiyon)

No mention of prices were made in the report, but Chinese clones of this type tend to sell between $40-120 per piece.

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About the Author

Chad O'Carroll

Chad O'Carroll has written on North Korea since 2010 and writes between London and Seoul.