Way off topic: North Korea shows off a tablet PC

This isn’t an AAdvantage Miles or travel related post, but most of us that travel do it because we’re curious about other people and other places, so I thought I’d share a link to an interesting site about the North Korean tech industry.

I learned about it from a friend who lives and teaches in South Korea. He’s grew up in Dallas and came back for a few months to visit his family; while he was here we managed to get together on occasion for dinner.

Last week we were having a conversation about how they teach computer science in South Korea, native Asian programming languages, and Korean web design. He told me that he had learned that the North Korean text character set was designed so that the names of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il always display 20 percent larger than surronding text.

My question to my friend was “So are you working on a web project for the Dear Leader?” He laughed and then explained that he had read about it on a blog the covers the technology “industry” in North Korea.

Martyn Williams writes the North Korea Tech blog. Not all the topics are as geeky as North Korean text encoding, there are lots of interesting and less technical articles like this photo tour of a DPRK tablet PC “factory“.

I enjoyed Rapid Travel Chai’s travel posts about his trip to North Korea. Not sure that I’ll ever visit, but it’s seems such a strange and forbidding country that I’m kind of fascinated by the place.

Would you go if you had the chance?


  1. Went to NK for the mass games in 2010. I took the train in by using my Taiwan passport (which is not exactly allowed). All other foreigners other than Chinese (maybe Russian too?) must fly in on old crappy Soviet planes from Beijing. Air Koryo is the name I believe. They released a promo video recently, yikes, I do NOT wanna be on those planes. We had our entire trip video taped (for our souvenir video CD supposedly). Food was good but the portions were anything but American. I was warned beforehand so I brought some extra food into NK. The tour guide happily took all my left over food (instant noodles/cookies/bread) when I finished the tour, one cannot take food out of the country.

    After learning that I live in the states, the tour guide tried to get some money out of me (?!?!) I think he asked for an additional “payment” of 1000 RMB?? Oh yea we had no access to NK currency. Well even if I did wanna give him the money, the freaking country has no credit card machines nor ATMs and I doubt they take AMEX travelers checks so I luckily got out of it.

    I did secretly take pictures of the scenery from the train bathroom but I didn’t do the memory card switch soon enough before a “police” grabbed my camera and went thru all my photos. I got the scariest stern looks from about 5 “police” and all the NKoreans on the train. They made me feel like I was about to get sentenced to death. So thats my little story, it’d be cool to go back now that KJI is gone.

    • @ Vivian – Wow, thanks for sharing your first hand experience. After that, you’re probably an unflappable traveler!

  2. @ Jimmy – I think the DPRK may be the one destination where it (gasp!) isn’t possible to earn or use miles! 🙂

    • @ Brian – I can relate. Though there’s probably nothing to to it, the fear of not being allowed to leave would never be far from my mind.

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