Internet use in North Korea might be a rare luxury but that hasn't stopped the pariah state from developing its very own version of the iPad. And according to Austrian academic Ruediger Frank – a frequent visitor – the Samjiyon tablet isn't half bad.
Aside from the Samjyon's incapacity to connect to the Internet, Frank reports that the device does come equipped with 28 volumes of foreign literature, 14 pre-installed games and a course on modern Chinese (the "correct Beijing dialect", apparently).
The digital contents of the Samjiyon provide a fascinating insight into what the North Korean state appears to endorse to its citizens – albeit it to a group that are in the severe minority. As North Korean expert and now occasional tech-blogger Ruediger Franks reminds us:
“The existence of this tablet does not in any way change the fact that the DPRK is, for many of its people, a country of hard manual labor and simple living conditions.”
Nonetheless, the release of the device does suggest North Korea becomes more demographically diverse by the day.
Here are a few of the notable pre-installed features:
• Fourteen games including Korean chess, billiards, “fishing joy”, and an adapted version of Angry Birds.
• A multi-language dictionary.
• An encylopedia (the introduction of which focuses on “the immortal achievements of leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il").
• 28 volumes of foreign literature (mostly taken from the 19th Century). Notable titles include: Victor Hugo's Les Miserables, Charles Dickens' Dombey and Son, Margaret Mitchell's Gone with the Wind, William Makepeace Thackeray's Vanity Fair and Walter Scott's Ivanhoe.
• A fully functional MS Office pachage consisting of Word, Excel and Powerpoint.