Categories: News

An Inside Glimpse at Computing in North Korea

After eschewing Windows due to its American origins, North Korea has been using the Red Star operating system for over a decade. Not only is Red Star created by the North Korean state, it is the only OS that is permitted for use within the country, and only supports the native language. The most recent iteration of the software, Red Star 3, is a Linux distro designed to mimic Apple’s OS X, believed to be a favourite of the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.

A former Google employee, Will Scott, managed to obtain a copy of Red Star 3 from a local KCC retailer during a visit to Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, giving us in the West our first glimpse at computing within North Korea.

Red Star 3’s start-up screen:

The installation process asks the user to select your city and time zone. Seoul, capital of South Korea, is conspicuously absent:

The log-in screen:

The resemblance of Red Star 3’s desktop to that of the Mac’s OS X is uncanny:

Red Star’s proprietary word processor:

And its e-mail client:

Documents can be accessed via the File Manager, again taking its cue from OS X’s Finder:

The browser is a modified Firefox, called “Maenara”:

The desktop can be modified, with a number of wallpapers included:

This one in particular, 다박솔초소의 설경, or “snow at the baksol outpost”, seems to say much about the North Korean state’s preoccupation with military might:

Ashley Allen

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