What can an Android tablet made for North Korea do?

Photo via Motherboard

North Korea is an interesting country. They prefer to keep to themselves and block out all external influence in order to lead their people the way they see fit.

Much of the country’s amenities are state-sponsored and access to the finer things are typically limited to the upper class. We’re talking things like smartphones and internet, technologies which most of the rest of us take for granted.

So, what does a North Korean tablet look like? And what can it do? Thanks to an enlightening piece from Motherboard.Vice, we now know.

Photo via Motherboard

It looks like an ordinary tablet from the outside looking in. It runs Android, is pretty big, and has icons for different apps and files you can get into. It’s what you don’t see that makes it the perfect tool for North Koreans (or, at least, the perfect tool in dictator Kim Jong-Un’s eyes).

Photo via Motherboard

For starters, Hoozo — the Chinese company who manufactured this tablet — stripped out its Bluetooth and WiFi functionality to ensure that they can’t be used for unauthorized access to the internet.

Beyond that, the Woolim tablet is loaded with custom software that makes it next to impossible to load files or run apps and games which aren’t approved. It uses a simple signature check to compare the file’s digital signature with ones approved for use by the Korean government. Plus, opening apps will automatically prompt the tablet to take a screenshot of them, likely to make sure users aren’t somehow writing or doing what they aren’t supposed to.

Although it sounds like far less fun than the tablets we enjoy, it still aims to provide some fun for users. There are learning apps and games for kids, and they can even play Angry Birds, though that’s hardly considered the gold standard in mobile gaming these days.

This is one of the rare looks into a society which prides itself on ultimate levels of secrecy and reclusion, for one reason or another. Whether you agree with the way North Korea does things, they always remind us not to take certain liberties we have for granted.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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