To say that smartphones and cutting-edge technology abound in North Korea would be lying. Throughout its history, the country ruled by Kim Jong-un has been characterized by a total hermetism towards the outside , to the point that what is known there as the Internet is, in reality, a national intranet called Kwangmyong . Government institutions are connected by a fiber optic network of up to 2.5 Gbps, and Global Internet access is limited to certain people who can already imagine who they are.
To access the Internet, a compatible device is necessary, and it is clear that theit is not. The leaders of the communist party and the government leadership they seem to have a taste for technology developed in South Korea and the United States (on more than one occasion, the North Korean leader has been photographed using an iPhone), and the latest data revealed by the consultancy(RF) they show it.
The Recorded Future guys have analyzed North Korea’s technological architecture “Through third-party data analysis, IP geolocation, Shodan port scans, and open source intelligence and user agents (OSINT)” . Thus, it has been possible to determine which smartphones are the most used by the country’s leaders using data that cover from December 1, 2017 to April 15, 2018. And eye, it has no waste.
A lot of iPhone and a lot of Samsung, the most used phones by the government of Kim Jong-un
From Recorded Future they affirm that “We compiled a significant amount of information about North Korea’s technological architecture, including the types, manufacturers, and hardware and software models North Korea’s leaders used to access the Internet.” . First let’s make a paragraph . Remember whento all the participants of the Winter Olympics? Do you remember thatbecause North Korea had imposed a international sanction for which they could not import luxury goods and computer products ?
This clashes head-on with the analysis published by the consultant, which shows that the government of Kim Jong-un uses the following devices to connect to the Internet :
- Samsung Galaxy S5
- Samsung Galaxy J5
- Samsung Galaxy S7
- Samsung Galaxy S8 Plus
- Huawei Mate 95c 6 v6
- Apple iPhone 4S
- Apple iPhone 5
- Apple iPhone 5S
- Apple iPhone 6
- Apple iPhone 6S Plus
- Apple iPhone 7 Plus
- Apple iPhone 8 Plus
- Apple iPhone X
As they point from RF, between 2002 and 2017 , the United States was able to import computer and electronic products to North Korea “For a total of more than $ 430,000” . That would explain the presence of old devices present in the list (see Galaxy S5, for example). Nevertheless, iPhone X, 8 Plus and Galaxy S8 + are left hanging . How have these products arrived here? The main culprit could be, according to the source, “The international inconsistency in the definition of the term ‘luxury goods'” .
Each country of the United Nations Organization can interpret what it means by luxury goods differently. For example, the EU prohibits “Articles and electrical / electronic appliances for domestic use of a value greater than 50 euros each” . Australia prohibits all “Consumer electronics” . This means that what is exportable in one country is not exportable in another, and vice versa.
“The question of how US technology arrives to North Korea is not just a history of failed export control or inconsistent application ” , affirm from Recorded Future . “According to data from the Department of Commerce, USA. has exported more than 176 million dollars of products to North Korea since 2002 […]. At its highest peak in 2014, USA exported $ 215,862 in computers and electronic products, [the latter defined as] computers, computer peripherals (including items such as printers, monitors and storage devices), communications equipment (such as landlines and cordless telephones) and similar electronic products (including equipment) of audio and video and semiconductors). ” , they point.
Either way, These business relationships are not unilateral . As RF picks up in his report, “North Koreans are experts at forging addresses and names to bypass sanctions programs” Y “North Korea has used screen companies and different aliases to export technology, from facial recognition software to the United States and encryption software to Asia.” . It seems that sanctions are not so much when there are interests behind, right?
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