North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears to be using a smartphone made by HTC Corp (宏達電) of Taiwan, rather than Apple Inc of the US or Samsung Electronics Co of South Korea, to avoid extra burdens, a South Korean newspaper reported yesterday.
The Seoul-based Korea Joong-Ang Daily, describing a picture published on Jan. 26 by North Korea’s official Central News Agency, reported that Kim was in a national security meeting with a black mobile phone next to him that looked like an HTC model.
The South Korean Ministry of Unification, in charge of dealing with North Korea, speculated that Kim’s smartphone was the latest HTC model, based on precise analyses of images and data, the newspaper said.
The smartphone is most likely used to communicate with Kim’s family and his cadre in the Workers’ Party of Korea, the report said.
Kim’s choice of an HTC smartphone is mostly likely an attempt to avoid “extra burdens” from using Apple’s iPhones or Samsung’s Galaxy series, the newspaper said, citing the ministry.
The report added that North Koreans are not permitted to access the Internet via mobile phones and are only allowed to use them for voice calls and text messaging.
There were 1.5 million mobile phone users in North Korea as of November last year and the number is forecast to grow at a faster-than-expected pace to 1.7 million in the near term, the report said.
HTC does not have any official stores in North Korea. The company decided to close its South Korea office in July last year to streamline its operations and improve efficiency.