Taipei, Feb. 4 (CNA) North Korean leader Kim Jong-un seems to be using a smartphone made by Taiwan's HTC Corp. rather than Apple Inc. of the United States or Samsung Electronics Co. of South Korea, a South Korean newspaper reported Monday.
The Seoul-based Korea JoongAng Daily, describing a picture published Jan. 26 by North Korea's official Central News Agency, reported that Kim was in a national security meeting with a black mobile phone next to him that looked like an HTC model.
South Korea's Unification Ministry, in charge of dealing with North Korea, speculated that Kim's phone was the latest HTC model, based on precise analyses of images and data, the newspaper said.
The phone is most likely used to communicate with Kim's family and his cadre in the Workers' Party of Korea, according to the report.
Kim's choice of an HTC phone is mostly likely an attempt to avoid the "additional burdens" that would come with the use of Apple's iPhones or Samsung's Galaxy series, the newspaper said, citing the ministry, but did not explain what those burden were.
The report added that North Koreans are not permitted to access the Internet via mobile phones and are only allowed to use them for voice calls and text messaging.
There were 1.5 million mobile phone users in North Korea as of November last year and the number is forecast to grow at a faster-than-expected pace to 1.7 million in the near term, the report said.
HTC does not have any official stores in North Korea. The company decided to close its South Korea office in July last year to streamline its operations and improve efficiency.
(By Chiang Yuan-chen and Jeffrey Wu)