At Young Pioneer Tours we have more than a casual interest in the technology and software of the DPRK. We’ve previously written about Red Star OS, the Arirang smartphone, and the Samjiyon tablet. Today on our ‘made in the DPRK’ series, we’ll be looking at the Naenara browser. Does it hold a candle to the big boys of Chrome, Firefox and Edge (LOL)? Let’s find out.
Naenara: a brief history
‘Naenara’ literally means ‘our country’ in Korean, is the North Korean intranet browser initially developed by the Korean Computer Centre for giving access to the Kwangmyong Intranet of the country.
What is the Kwangmyong Intranet?
OK, so just to avoid any confusion at all, you were not misreading when you saw the word intranet; we did not misspell internet! An intranet is an internet protocol system that is a “walled garden,” as in it is separate from the World Wide Web (as invented by Al Gore). North Korea is currently the only country in the world to have a walled garden Intranet, although, in 2011, Iran toyed with the idea of doing a similar system.
The Kwangmyong Intranet thus provides services and websites either made specifically for the North Korean audience as well as websites that have been approved for viewing in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea.
What does Naenara look like?
For all intents and purposes, Naenara has been modelled on Mozilla Firefox, the most popular open-source web browser in the world. In many respects, it looks and essentially is a Korean language version of Firefox, mainly different in that it automatically tries to connect directly to the North Korean intranet system (which we’ve discussed in great detail previously). While it’s therefore superficially similar to Firefox, don’t expect to be googling much with it. If you can get online with it, it is so compatible with Firefox that it is possible to update Naenara.
How is Naenara distributed?
Naenara is distributed as part of Red Star OS, the indigenous Operating System of the country based upon the Linux OS. It was created due to licensing issues with Microsoft and is technically at least the main operating system of the country. In reality, Microsoft is still extremely common, and the leaders of the country famously used Mac OS! You can read more about Red Star OS right here.
What devices can be used with Naenara?
North Korea creates a number of electronic devices for use by Korean citizens. Cell phone usage is quite high in Pyongyang now, and smartphones are very much a thing. All smartphones in North Korea come with the Naenara installed for connection to the intranet.
North Korea also famously creates its own tablets, notably the Samjiyon tablet. I previously owned this tablet and can confirm that you cannot connect to WiFi with it. This means you cannot download stuff from the web and then take it into North Korea.
When connecting to the internet proper, Naenara automatically bookmarks major North Korean websites (such as KCNA, the state news agency), it is also unique in that it updates itself automatically, yep that means whether you like it, or not.
And that is the Naenara Web/Intranet Browser of North Korea! We hope this blog was geeky enough for you, but if you would like to take your geek to a whole other level, then check out the following site (DPRK.website), which whilst not listing sites on the North Korean Intranet, does list every site on the.KP domain, as well as all websites hosted within North Korea, or at least controlled by the DPRK!.