Computers in North Korea run on look-alike Mac software called ‘Red Star 3.0’ — here’s what it’s like to use

A North Korean student using a computer at Kim Il Sung University.

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A North Korean student using a computer at Kim Il Sung University.
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Flickr/Uri Tours

  • Almost every computer in North Korea runs on a North Korea-made operating system called “Red Star.”
  • A former Google employee purchased a copy of North Korea’s operating system before returning to America, which lets us see what it’s like to use a computer in the country.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

When former Google employee Will Scott had the chance to visit the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, he also purchased a copy of North Korea’s “Red Star 3” operating system before returning to America.

Little was publicly known about Red Star 3 at the time.

North Korea used to use Windows, but it has since created Red Star 3, which is designed to look a lot like Apple’s macOS operating system. Red Star 4 is reportedly in the works, but for now, most people in North Korea are still on the third version.

From stunning and picturesque wallpapers to removing South Korea from the available time zones, here’s what it’s like to use a computer in North Korea:


This is the startup screen when you first boot up Red Star 3.

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Will Scott

When installing Red Star 3, you’re prompted to select a city for your time zone. Interestingly enough, Seoul, South Korea, isn’t an option.

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Will Scott

This is the log-in screen.

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Will Scott

You’re in! You’ll notice Red Star 3 looks a lot like Apple’s macOS. Past versions looked more like Windows XP. Since <a href=”http://www.businessinsider.com/brand-new-photo-confirms-that-kim-jong-un-is-a-mac-user-2013-3″target=”_blank”>Kim Jong Un was spotted</a> using an iMac at his desk back in 2013, some people believe he wanted Red Star to look more like a Mac.

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Will Scott

This is the word processor for creating documents.

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Will Scott

Here’s the email client.

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Will Scott

To access your saved documents, you use Red Star’s file manager, which looks a lot like Apple’s “Finder” management system.

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Will Scott

Red Star’s web browser is called “Naenara,” and it is a heavily modified version of Mozilla Firefox.

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Will Scott

This is how you personalize Red Star 3. We also have access to the wallpapers that are included.

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Will Scott

This wallpaper is titled 다박솔초소의 설경, or “snow at the baksol outpost.”

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Will Scott

This wallpaper’s name translates to “Night view of Zhuangzi River fire.”

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Will Scott

This wallpaper is called 대홍단의 감자꽃바다, or “daehongdan’s potato flowers”

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Will Scott

This beautiful wallpaper translates to “Iron’s Azalea,” and shows the flowering Azalea shrubs.

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Will Scott

This wallpaper called “On the horizon” shows a picturesque view of North Korean farmland.

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Will Scott

This gorgeous waterfall wallpaper is called “Echo of the falls.”

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Will Scott

This wallpaper is called 범안리의 선경, or “Beomanli’s Outskirts.”

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Will Scott

This wallpaper is “Mt Paekdu’s Sunrise.” Paekdu is an active volcano that borders North Korea and China.

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Will Scott

This is an updated version of an earlier post.