Mobile phones feature in North, South Korean divide

Posted by Nermin Hadjarbegovic

As the tech press gears up to shower Samsung’s new Galaxy S4 with praise, North Korea is threatening to shower the South with a deadly blanket of ancient Soviet artillery and maybe even a pinch of uranium fuelled instant sunshine. 

On the face of it, North Korean sabre rattling has absolutely nothing to do with a smartphone launch, or does it?

Samsung is a source of national pride in South Korea, and it should be. It is not just a successful company, it is much more. It is one of the world’s biggest conglomerates, with annual revenue in excess of $220 billion and a whopping 344,000 employees - more than Apple, Intel, Microsoft and Google combined. Samsung doesn’t just build phones and dishwashers, it builds warships, fighter jets, choppers, self-propelled howitzers and subsystems for a range of other weapons platforms. Samsung is huge and what we see in the tech world is just the tip of the iceberg. It is a source of inspiration for South Korean entrepreneurs and the nation in general.

So what does all this have to do with a nuclear armed Eric Cartman lookalike on the other side of the 38th parallel? Well, Kim Jong-un doesn’t really like Samsung, or Psy, or anything to do with the South. He’s an HTC fanboy. Obviously, a North Korean leader would not be caught dead with a Samsung phone, and our sources in the North Korean Ministry of Truth claim Lil’ Kim has already placed a pre-order for the new HTC One.  

The Galaxy S4 launch is scheduled for March 14, so let’s see what Kim’s been up to lately. Back in December, he launched a satellite, which was basically a test of a long range ballistic missile. In January, North Korea said it would carry out a new nuclear test. On February 12, an underground nuclear test was indeed carried out, prompting condemnation from all corners of the world.

The UN Security Council imposed new sanctions and even China, the North’s only ally, seemed fed up with Kim Jong-un’s childish antics. North Korea responded with a bizarre propaganda video and threatened the US with a pre-emptive nuclear strike earlier this month. On March 8, the DPRK abandoned the joint declaration on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Then it refused to answer its hotline with South Korea and on March 11 it declared the 1953 armistice agreement invalid. Technically, North Korea is at war with the South, and now even the armistice has gone out the window.

The escalation eerily coincides with the S4 launch and a number of leaks. Poor Kim Jong-un. He thinks his new HTC One might be a lemon come March 15, so he is acting up like a spoiled chubby brat. Which he is.

We decided not to cover the recent flood of Galaxy S4 leaks, since we really saw no point in wasting our time (and your time) on any of them. We know about as much about the S4 as we do about the North Korean nuclear program, maybe even less. We aim to inform and entertain, and if we can’t inform at least we’ll try to entertain you. There is nothing informative or entertaining about fake phone specs and poorly photoshopped “insider pics”. Blaming the S4 launch for North Korea’s loony rhetoric is just as outlandish as some of the leaks served up by tech sites as clickbait.

On the other hand, if that nut really does start a war on Thursday, at least we’ll know why. We could never get the hang of Thursdays anyway.