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Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-un is the supreme leader of North Korea, the third and youngest son of Kim Jong-il (1941–2011) and the grandson of Kim Il-sung (1912–1994). Following his father's death in 2011, he was announced as the "Great Successor" by North Korean state television. He has held the titles of the First Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea, the Chairman of the Central Military Commission, First Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea, the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army, and also a presidium member of the Central Politburo of the Workers' Party of Korea.

NewsAsia
NORTH KOREA

Photo of North's Kim Jong-un with smartphone spurs speculation

Photo of Kim Jong-un with smartphone, said to be a Taiwanese HTC, is the talk of the town

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 06 February, 2013, 4:19am
 

A picture of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un with a smartphone has triggered fevered speculation about which brand he favours.

The photo released by the North's state media showed Kim presiding over a meeting with top national security advisers last week - a meeting believed to have been focused on Pyongyang's threat to conduct an imminent nuclear test.

It also showed a black smartphone on the table next to Kim's arm - as well as a lit cigarette in his hand.

"It's believed that the smartphone belonged to Kim given that the device was placed right next to the documents he was looking at," a Seoul government official said.

The South Korean media gave the picture prominent coverage, opening a debate over the manufacturer, with speculation ranging between South Korea's Samsung, Taiwan's HTC and iPhone maker Apple.

Samsung, the world's top smartphone maker, was adamant that one of its flagship Galaxy models had not turned up across the border.

"It's not a Samsung phone," a company spokesman said.

It must have been politically uncomfortable for Kim Jong-Un to use products made by the US ... and he can't publicly endorse the fact that the South is more technologically advanced

The Seoul official said the picture had been analysed by the South's intelligence agency, which concluded that HTC was the likely manufacturer.

The Taiwanese firm declined to identify the device but said that it appreciated the "support of all users".

South Korea's Chosun Ilbo newspaper suggested politics was behind the brand choice.

"It must have been politically uncomfortable for Kim Jong-Un to use products made by the US ... and he can't publicly endorse the fact that the South is more technologically advanced," the daily said.

While North Koreans live in probably the most isolated and censored society on the planet, the country is not a complete IT desert.

Mobile phones were introduced in 2008 through a joint venture with the Egyptian telecom firm Orascom, and a domestic intranet was launched in 2002.

But the one million normal cellphone subscribers can only phone each other, not outside the country, and the intranet is similarly cut off from the rest of the worldwide web.

"Kim and his family members as well as the North's political elite appear to use smartphones or other mobile phones capable of accessing the internet," said the Seoul official.

Kim, believed to be in his late 20s, took over the country after the death of his father Kim Jong-Il in December 2011, completing a second dynastic succession of the Kim family.

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