North Korea's Android Tablet Woolim Is Packed With 'Features': Automatic Screenshots, Non-Removable Bloatware, And More

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As the list of the best tablets begin to populate year-ender tech reports, a device has emerged to claim the distinction of possibly the worst tablet made at this point in time.

Meet Woolim, a Chinese-built tablet made especially for the citizens of North Korea. The device, which would probably be thrown out of the window with alacrity by the jaded gadget users in the West, also runs Android OS.

It is not yet known which Android version is on board but this much is clear: it is heavily modified to suit the requirement of the North Korean government regulators.

Locked Android System

The tablet has been stripped of its Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules and it ships with a load of bloatware masquerading as features that state officials decided are fit for the digital needs of its users.

Interestingly, there is some semblance of sophistication in the Woolim tablet. It is outfitted with a technology that can successfully block files and third-party APKs. Allowed contents purportedly need cryptographic signatures in order to work.

This is further complemented by a function that will take a screenshot whenever the user opens an app. To top it all, the image captured cannot be deleted. The expectation is that the average North Korean would already have moved a mountain first before he is able to bypass this surveillance feature.

According to reports, the tablet is able to connect to the North Korean internet and the state television for entertainment and the users’ daily dose of state propaganda. But since the Wi-Fi chip has been removed, one could only assume that it has data connectivity.

We will not be surprised, however, if we find that the North Korean government has outfitted the Woolim a dedicated ethernet port or an accompanying modem.

Woolim And The North Korean Tech Ambition

Whoever manufactures the Woolim — the government or a state-sponsored organization — appears to be intent on turning a profit because the device is reportedly expensive, retailing from $167 to $209.

This has prompted some observers to conclude that the device itself is not catering to the average Joe but some rich segment of the North Korean society. If this is the case, the state could at least address a possibly restive elite eager to experience technology especially since it bars any foreign technology from entering the country.

One can only turn to how the government has confiscated the free Samsung Galaxy S7 edge given to its athletes.

All things considered, the Woolim should be interesting for tech watchers because it could indicate a growing North Korean interest on technology. One should remember that if the country’s government really puts its mind on some initiative, it will be pursued with determination.



Take the case of its missile system. In the past, the rest of the world watched in collective amusement as faulty missiles got tested in its military facilities. Today, however, there are reports that the country has already successfully tested nuclear bombs.


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