North Korean phone users get photo beauty app

Promotional image of the Spring Scent app

A new mobile phone app developed in North Korea allows its users to experiment with new looks.

While such photo manipulation apps are common around the world, it appears that Bomhyanggi 1.0 (Spring Scent) is the first of its kind for smartphone users in the Communist country.

According to North Korean news outlet DPRK Today, the Spring Scent app helps its users “explore what type of makeup techniques would be the best for themselves by trying different types of makeup tools virtually”.

It has, developers Kyeonghung Information Technology Store say, “gained very positive feedback from women in North Korea”.

“You will get to see yourself becoming more beautiful,” the app’s promotional material boasts.

A recent report in the Seoul-based Daily NK claims that there’s a growing interest in skin care and beauty north of the border, thanks to highly illegal interest in South Korean television dramas smuggled into the country.

Soccer Fierce Battle title cardImage copyrightARIRANG-MEARI
Image captionSoccer Fierce Battle, said to closely resemble Western gaming apps

Soccer Fierce Battle

North Korea has two official mobile phone networks, but contacting the world beyond its borders by phone or through the global internet is technically impossible.

Instead, there is a growing internal market in mobile phone applications for news, information and entertainment, many resembling products available worldwide.

Among them is Soccer Fierce Battle, a 3D football simulation compatible with PCs and mobile devices operating the Android system.

The game closely resembles the best-selling FIFA video game series, Seoul’s Korea Herald newspaper reported last August.

Another popular game is Hunting Yankee, a shoot-em-up in which American soldiers are the enemy, the South China Morning Post says.

North Korea makes its own tablet computers and mobile phones running a domestically-produced version of the Android operating system, and there are more than 3.5m users in the country, Japan’s Nikkei reported last month.

According to the New York Times, Pyongyang reportedly imports mobile phones and electronics from Chinese companies, exploiting a loophole in sanctions on luxury goods that leaves exporting countries to define what exactly these goods might be.

A woman takes a photo on her mobile phone in central PyongyangImage copyrightAFP
Image captionMobile phones have become an increasingly common sight around Pyongyang