If techies think Microsoft's new Surface tablet is just an iPad knock off, wait until they see North Korea's. Believe it or not, the repressive Hermit Kingdom released a new tablet computer this week called "Arirang" after a famous Korean folk hymn. But while North Korean state television anchors are trumpeting it as a next-generation device developed and produced by the government's own Pyongyang Information Technology Bureau, the tablet appears to be a generic Chinese iPad clone.
The embarrassing revelation comes from NK News' Tad Farrell who compared a series of images of the "Arirang" device with a low-cost Chinese tablet built in Shenzhen. The images appeared on state television in reports that championed the device as “contributing to the country’s science technology distribution, culture, and education projects.” Above are screenshots from the broadcast, which showed locals testing out the new-fangled device.
Unfortunately, a side-by-side comparison of the Arirang and the Shenzhen-produced clone show remarkably similar design characteristics, including identical placement of the home button and control area. As Farrell reports, the likely result is that Pyongyang entered into a fairly typical contract with the Shenzhen manufacturer. "[With] bulk customers custom device branding, packaging and even core software installs, Chinese manufactures offer a cost-effective solution for anyone seeking to release their own branded tablet device," writes Farrell. Woops!