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View more articles by Hamish Macdonald
Hamish Macdonald is an NK News contributor and has previously worked at The Korea Herald and for the Australia Centre for Independent Journalism in Sydney.
A North Korean company is advertising a domestic tablet computer under the copyrighted name of one of Apple Inc.’s flagship products – the “iPad” – the DPRK’s latest edition of Foreign Trade magazine shows.
Made by the Myohyang IT Company, the device’s advertisement calls the tablet computer a “Ryonghung IPad”.
“Ryonghung iPad is now popular among customers,” the marketing copy reads. “It can perform a range of functions such as reading different sources of digital information, office work and documentation. And it also has more than 40 apps.”
“The iPad has been certified by the local GMP system, and highly appreciated at the third national sci-tech festival and the national intellectual property products show in 2016,” it continued. GMP stands for Good Project Management.
The marketing material likely breaches Apple’s trademarks, according to the company’s guidelines for using trademarks and copyrights.
“You may not use or register, in whole or in part, Apple, iPod, iTunes, Macintosh, iMac, or any other Apple trademark, including Apple-owned graphic symbols, logos, icons, or an alteration thereof, as or as part of a company name, trade name, product name, or service name except as specifically noted in these guidelines,” Apple’s guidelines for its trademarks and copyrights reads.
The term “iPad” is registered as an Apple trademark on its website and while there are occasions when the company’s terms can be used, these generally need Apple’s authorization.
Apple was contacted by NK News for comment on the potential breach of copyright but did not respond to inquiries in time for publication.
North Korea has a tightly controlled economy, but there is a widespread grey market system for foreign electronics and evidence of market-style adaptations being employed by state-owned enterprises. This includes advertising in stores and – at least for the state-run Pyongwha Motors – on billboards.
The use of an internationally famous trademark of one of America’s biggest companies seems to be, however, a first.
In recent years North Korea has developed its own range of tablet computers for domestic consumers, which includes models such as the Samjiyon tablet, the Myohyang tablet and the “Big Sea” (Daeyang) tablet.
The Ryonghung tablet first appeared in Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reports in 2014 although it appeared in the country in 2013. At the time it was called the “Ryonghung-trademarked tablet computer” by state media.
In 2015, a North Korean defector who previously worked as a professor at the Hamhung University of Computer Technology, disassembled a Ryonghung tablet and discovered that it contained memory chips manufactured by South Korea’s Icheon-based SK Hynix.
According to the box containing the Ryonghung tablet, it comes equipped with a 1GHz CPU, 512MB Ram, 8GB internal memory, 16GB external Memory, an eight-inch screen and weighs 250g. The battery lasts for 6 hours.
The tablet advertised in Foreign Trade as the “Ryonghung IPad” has a quadcore 1.2 GHZ CPU, 1GB of RAM, an 8GB hard disk, an HDMI cable connection and comes with a keyboard and “network connection” capabilities, according to the advertising material.
The advertising material also shows North Korean SD cards and application or program adverts, including a calculator app, a health encyclopedia, a medical app called “Good Doctor 3.0” and an agricultural based program.
The “Ryonghung IPad” may not be the first time North Korean companies have taken inspiration from Apple’s influential designs. The country showcased its tablet and computer products domestically at an International Trade Fair in 2015 and displayed a computer that bore a close resemblance to Apple’s iMac computer.
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Translations by Minyoung Kim