Smartphone imports from China said to have hit record in 2014

Imports of smartphones from China into North Korea hit a record in 2014, according to a report by Yonhap News.

The South Korean news agency said North Korea bought smartphones worth US$82.8 million from China last year, according to figures from the Seoul-based Korea International Trade Association (KITA).

That’s almost double the 2013 number and in line with what is believed to be continued growth of North Korea’s cellular service.

The network is operated by Cheo Technology, a joint venture between the country’s Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and Egypt’s Orascom Telecom Media and Technology, and uses the Koryolink brand name. In September last year, the company said it had 2.4 million subscribers, up from 2 million in June 2013.

During the year, North Korea introduced at least one new model of smartphone. The latest “Arirang” model phone is a modern, Android-based handset that is sold in the country under a local brand name, but is in fact based on the W200 handset produced by China’s Shenzhen Hongjiayuan Communication Technology, a Shenzhen-based manufacturing company that uses the THL brand name.

KITA also said imports of data-processing devices, which includes laptop computers, rose 16 percent to $23 million, reported Yonhap.

An affiliate of 38 North