HTC's new flagship Butterfly smartphone. (File photo/Xinhua)
North Korea's young leader Kim Jong-un has reportedly started using a smartphone, possibly the latest model from Taiwanese brand HTC, according to South Korean news agency JoongAng Ilbo. If true, the choice would be a deliberate snub for South Korean tech giant Samsung.
The country forbids its people to connect to the internet using mobile phones, which may only be used for phone calls and text messaging. Yet Kim, his family and leading cadres have started using smartphones with internet functions, said to be a customized internet service for the leader and his circles, said the news agency.
North Korea has been operating mobile telecom services since 2008 through Korea Link, a joint venture between the country and Egyptian telecom company Orascom.
Orascom chairman Naguib Shah Voorhees said the number of mobile phone users in North Korea will reach 1.7 million by the end of this year, a faster rate of growth than expected in the secretive Stalinist country.