North Korea develops software to teach ideology

North Korea has developed software designed to teach ideology to party members and workers, according to North Korean party daily Rodong Sinmun.

Called Chongseo 1.0, it contains writings by the country’s founder Kim Il-sung and his son – former leader Kim Jong-il.

The paper explains that the encyclopaedia-like electronic book program aggregates classical works and anecdotes about the two Kims, as well as material related to current leader Kim Jong-un.

The program works on different devices and operating systems – including Windows and North Korea’s Linux-based Red Star – and the plan is to distribute it nationwide.

And it won’t stop there. Developers are already working on the next version – Chongseo 2.0, adding various functions, including voice reading.

High-tech pursuits

Rodong Sinmun has been issuing articles with ideological themes recently, in the run up to the anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s death. “People must try harder to learn the teachings of the founder Kim,” the paper said in an editorial on 8 July – the day of the anniversary.

But this focus on doctrine seems to be part of a wider effort by the government to counter foreign influences that increasingly penetrate the isolated country through the proliferation of technology.

The digitisation has seen a steady trickle of foreign news and entertainment entering North Korea on portable devices like USB memory sticks – something that presents a challenge for the authorities.

North Korea’s approach has been to embrace technology while making sure that it serves its purpose – to portray the state-sanctioned version of reality to the people.

It is estimated that around six million mobile phones are being used in North Korea, which has a population of 25 million.

The country has been producing its own smartphones, albeit apparently using Chinese components. Pyongyang 2425 – the latest version launched in April, is said to feature Wi-Fi, wireless charging, and face-recognition unlocking technology.

North Koreans have also been allowed access to a local intranet, but under the watchful eye of the authorities.

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