US Korea Institute

Sunday September 21st 2014
Subscribe to Our RSS feed@38NorthNK on Twitter
38 North offers informed analysis of events in and around the DPRK.

Subscribe for latest


Insider

Archives

The North Korean Tablet Computer Samjiyon: Hardware, Software and Resources

By
22 October 2013


A 38 North Product Review by Ruediger Frank

A few months ago the ever-growing community of those interested in the DPRK learned that there is now something like a local version of the iPad—the Samjiyon tablet computer (p’anhyŏng k’omp’yut’ŏ samjiyŏn). After having had a chance to test it briefly during a visit in May 2013, I could not resist buying a Samjiyon in a shop in Pyongyang in September 2013. It cost me 180 Euros. After a few days of intensive use I can say that this is one of the few cases in my career as a consumer when I got more for my money than I had expected.

A necessary disclaimer first: No, this gadget is not available to all North Koreans; just as a Mercedes Benz S-class sedan is out of reach for most Germans. 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. It is a developing country with an economy that has been devastated by decades of socialist inefficiency. Most North Koreans are worried about food and heating, not about electronic gadgets. But, just as there are now more than 2 million mobile phones in North Korea, the Samjiyon tablets exist and highlight one facet of this increasingly diverse society. The name of the device is ideologically correct: Samjiyŏn near Mt. Paektu is the place of a major anti-Japanese battle of 1939 commemorated by a large monument. This reminds us that the tablet is not just another toy of a typical consumer-oriented society. It is a useful and entertaining device for a minority in a totalitarian system with a dominant ideology.

Download the full review here (PDF, 16pp).

 

Reader Feedback

22 Responses to “The North Korean Tablet Computer Samjiyon: Hardware, Software and Resources”

  1. [...] rest of the world. Perhaps unwilling to fulfill Schmidt’s prophecy, a few months later the DPRK unveiled its Samjiyeon tablet, a device without Internet access but pre-loaded with a (perhaps pirated) copy of Angry Birds. [...]

  2. Hts says:

    The Samjiyon is now available on eBay, but in extremely small quantities. I hope one who buys the tablet will publish its contents for download on the internet for everyone to take a look at without owning the tablet.

  3. [...] Its appearance followed a second-round of publicity for the Samjiyon that coincided with a review published by 38 North. [...]

  4. [...] – though you can bid for one on eBay – but a major advantage of using it in-country is, as noted by Professor Frank Reudiger on 38 North, another North Korea-watching site, “the user is not [...]

  5. [...] – though you can bid for one on eBay – but a major advantage of using it in-country is, as noted by Professor Frank Reudiger on 38 North, another North Korea-watching site, “the user is not [...]

  6. [...] Android tablet of uncertain origin. It’s running a custom version of Android 4.0.4, and according to one Westerner retails for around $200. This tablet is an odd mix of cheap components, unusual hardware decisions, [...]

  7. [...] it or not, North Korea now has its own iPad-like tablet for its elites. “#Samjiyon” 38north.org/?p=5227 [...]

  8. Kos says:

    What chip used for TV tuner?

  9. [...] North: The North Korean Tablet Computer Samjiyon: Hardware, Software and Resources Quartz: On North Korea’s surprisingly amazing tablet you can play Angry Birds and read [...]

  10. [...] 38 North (Vía Quartz) Foto (CC) Gabriel [...]

  11. [...] 38 North (Vía Quartz) Foto (CC) Gabriel [...]

  12. [...] 38 North (Vía Quartz) Foto (CC) Gabriel Britto Compartido0VecesTwittearcorea del norteSamjiyonSamjiyon [...]

  13. [...] αναλυτής για θέματα που αφορούν τη χώρα, για το blog 38 North. 16 σελίδες που ξεκινούν [...]

  14. [...] αναλυτής για θέματα που αφορούν τη χώρα, για το blog 38 North. 16 σελίδες που ξεκινούν [...]

  15. [...] hands on one of the Samjiyon tablets and confirmed that sentiment. In 16 very detailed pages, he reviewed the tablet for 38 North, a blog about the DPRK. It’s a good one, too. In Ruediger’s own words, “This is [...]

  16. [...] hands on one of the Samjiyon tablets and confirmed that sentiment. In 16 very detailed pages, he reviewed the tablet for 38 North, a blog about the DPRK. It’s a good one, too. In Ruediger’s own words, “This is [...]

Leave a Reply

Credit for photo of young North Korean girl: T.M. All rights reserved, used with permission.