Did you know that North Korea had developed its own computer operating system? Many people often assume that the country likes meaningful access to computers and of course, the internet. In recent years, this has been slowly changing. The DPRK is very much becoming connected, with our series having explored the development of tablets and smartphones. Of course, the “catch” to all this new technology, as this will article will also note, is that it is all constructed on country’s very own strict political terms. This is the very much the case for what is described as Red Star O.S, the country’s self-developed answer to windows!
The first version of Red Star O.S was developed in 2008 after a period of research and production that took up to 10 years, it is an operating system derived from Linux coding. The first edition was described as “being like” windows XP. Since then, two more editions have been released in 2009 and 2012. The newest version is purported to resemble a MacOS. What of course, does the system offer? As you can imagine, Red Star O.S is fairly limited. It comes with a text editing program, an internet browser rooted to North Korea’s internal internet, as well as an audio and video player and some games. If anything, a basic operating system.
But those aren’t quite the put-offs. Western programmers who have obtained copies of the red star operating system have found issues with it which have raised eyebrows. As you can imagine, computers in North Korea are going to be perceived by the regime as useful, but also a political risk. Given this, Red O.S was found to have hidden software which traces the activity of its users. To prevent the removal of this, the OS is designed that users are never given full administrator access to the system. If an individual tries to hack into it to disable these security functions, the system is pre-programmed to destroy itself. But that isn’t all. In addition, Red Star O.S automatically creates watermarks of every file you use in the attempt to trace the import of prohibited content from the outside world. In addition, other hidden software will automatically delete files which fits pre-established “censorship” criteria.
In this case, Red Star O.S is an operating system which really lives up to its name, in that it is a true socialist operating system which serves to integrate the power and seer-ship of the state into one’s everyday use of a compute!. The end result is that it serves to be a technological innovation which is yet again limited in scope. With Kim Jong il’s personal macbook displayed on the desk of his former train in the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, in an ironic twist you probably can see why he didn’t choose to have Red Star O.S. Still North Korea is not done with it yet, there is a 4.0 version on the way!