N. Korea’s newest fad: ‘Boy General’ mobile phone game

December 9, 2015
In this Tuesday, May 5, 2015, photo, a man sits in front of portraits of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il, right, as he uses his smartphone in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korean officials have unveiled a mobile-friendly online shopping site. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

In this Tuesday, May 5, 2015, photo, a man sits in front of portraits of the late North Korean leaders Kim Il Sung, left, and Kim Jong Il, right, as he uses his smartphone in Pyongyang, North Korea. North Korean officials have unveiled a mobile-friendly online shopping site. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)

PYONGYANG, North Korea (AP) — Millions of North Koreans are now using mobile phones, and not just to make phone calls.

The Associated Press recently got a sneak peek at “Boy General,” the North’s hottest new game release, a spinoff of a new TV animation series that is both beautifully produced and genuinely fun to watch – suggesting Pyongyang is trying to win back an audience drawn to the banned Chinese and South Korean dramas that flow across its borders.

The app became an immediate hit after its September release, particularly in Pyongyang, where there are more mobile phones and a population that generally has more money and time to spend on leisure activities. The even more popular televised animation series returned to the airwaves in August and runs on Sunday evenings.

In the game, players are prompted to go on missions to defeat the enemies of the young general Swoeme, which means “Iron Hammer,” a brave warrior-commander of the Koguryo kingdom that lasted for about 700 years and ruled most of the Korean Peninsula and the heart of Manchuria until its downfall in AD 668.

The concept and design of “Boy General” are simple, and its map-like scenery is reminiscent of the “Minecraft” game. Since there is nothing like the App Store in North Korea, the most common way of getting the game appears to be sharing it over Bluetooth.

Games are not new to North Korean mobile phone users.

Not long after the use of mobile phones was opened up in 2009, some handsets came pre-installed with games such as “Tetris” or janggi, a chess-like game that is popular across East Asia. As phones and to a lesser extent tablets have become more sophisticated, so have the games available for North Koreans to enjoy.

Both the TV series and the game clearly have the support of ruling regime. The TV show is a revamped version of a 50-episode cartoon that started in the 1980s and ran on and off until 1997. In November last year, leader Kim Jong-un himself ordered the production of the 50 new episodes from the April 26 Animation Studios. It’s not clear who designed the game version.

The political message remains strong.

For starters, there is the obvious analogy of Swoeme to leader Kim, who while still in his early 30s has among his many titles that of Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army. They also reinforce the official line that the nation must remain united against the constant threat of foreign invaders.

Koguryo, which like today’s North Korea had its capital in Pyongyang, was overthrown by an alliance between the Chinese Tang Dynasty and the southern Korean kingdom of Silla. The dastardly and yet often comical villain is Hobi, a snaggle-toothed, pig-nosed Chinese spy who tried to assassinate Swoeme before he rose to the ranks as general.

But the real appeal of the game – and many others now available in North Korea – appears to be that it’s just fun to play.

Another new or perhaps updated game that came out this summer is called “Tank Battle,” a shoot ‘em up in which the goal is to destroy as many enemy tanks as possible. One might expect the American flag to be visible somewhere, but the nationality of the enemy tanks is not specified.

For those of a more nurturing nature, there is a virtual pet game, which explains why from time to time faint meows can be heard near gatherings of young North Koreans. The virtual pet in their pocket is lonely.

A game that looks a lot like “Angry Birds” is still popular, along with a “Bubble-Popping” game and for the very young, “Baby Piano,” for tapping out songs.

Though local users are unable to connect to the Internet – North Korea instead has its own domestic-use-only Intranet – they can send each other text messages, photos and, for high-end users, videos.

Phones also come with dictionaries, encyclopedias and provide access to e-books and some state-run news sites. If you want to know the weather forecast, you can call 112. KoryoLink, the county’s mobile service provider, also recently introduced a selection of about 200 ringtones for a small additional fee.

But if you want to call or text a foreigner, you are out of luck. They are kept on a different network.

39 Comments

  1. va voom

    October 8, 2016 at 12:22 AM

    Video | NBC Southern California

  2. paypal money generator

    February 1, 2017 at 10:28 AM

    It is the beginning now when you can generate the free money online from the generator of paypal.

  3. Jio4GVoice

    May 17, 2017 at 6:00 AM

    thanks for sharing nice article

  4. mobdro

    May 29, 2017 at 6:50 AM

  5. obat herbal terbaik

    June 19, 2017 at 9:17 PM

    Welcome to the web experts treatment of various types of diseases, do not forget to get the best health solutions here”
    cara Mengobati Kencing Batu

  6. Alex Smith

    July 2, 2017 at 5:35 AM

  7. 4liker apk

    July 4, 2017 at 4:21 AM

    Thank you very
    much for such an interesting post. Keep working, great job! In my free time, I like play

  8. Mobdro Download

    July 7, 2017 at 1:56 PM

  9. 2kvccodes.com

    July 9, 2017 at 7:04 PM

    The real game the plateforme this site is very fast play.

  10. Brawl Stars Hack APK, Brawl Stars Hack No Download No Survey 2017, Brawl Stars Hack No Survey No Password Mac, Brawl Stars Hack No human verification.

  11. Ace2three

    July 26, 2017 at 8:21 PM

    I loved the way you discuss the topic great work thanks for the sharing this valuable info. I really enjoy reading this article.

  12. rediffmail

    July 26, 2017 at 8:22 PM

    Valuable information! Looking forward to seeing your notes posted. Thank you for sharing the nice article. Good to see your article.

  13. Matthew V. Schubert

    August 8, 2017 at 1:41 AM

    Its new Koren news, thanks for share.

    Download KMSpico

  14. Lương Thị Ai Hiệp

    August 8, 2017 at 2:46 AM

    GTA 4 and 5 can be played at phone??

  15. Phùng Thị Ái Hạ

    August 8, 2017 at 3:06 AM

    Hello, you are amazing at writing the post.

    Thank you

  16. wwe immortals hack online

    August 11, 2017 at 5:36 AM

    Zombie Castaways hack (MOD, unlimited money) – the game takes you to a large and a tropical island in which you will create a great and unique farm.

  17. hacknohumanverification

    August 15, 2017 at 5:17 AM

    MovieStarPlanet Hack Online tool for unlimited StarCoins, Diamonds and lifetime VIP, all for free.

  18. transformice pirata

    August 16, 2017 at 2:43 AM

    Thanks for sharing this information. I really like your blog post very much. You have really shared a informative and interesting blog post with people

  19. Dong Bong

    August 20, 2017 at 2:54 AM

    Tôi thực sự đánh giá cao nỗ lực của bạn. Hãy tiếp tục đọc về Far Cry – Full Crack.

    Chúc một ngày tốt lành

  20. Ramish Kumar

    September 2, 2017 at 7:18 AM

    General mobile phone games are best but not that much…

  21. Ali Si

    September 2, 2017 at 7:18 AM

    Nice

  22. h isam

    September 13, 2017 at 12:30 AM

    nice article,

  23. h isam

    September 13, 2017 at 12:32 AM

    very nice article

  24. h isam

    September 13, 2017 at 12:35 AM

    General mobile phone games are best but not that much…

  25. h isam

    September 13, 2017 at 12:37 AM

    nice aricle, thanks

  26. h isam

    September 13, 2017 at 12:41 AM

    MovieStarPlanet Hack Online tool for unlimited StarCoins, Diamonds and lifetime VIP, all for free.

  27. h isam

    September 13, 2017 at 12:43 AM

    Hello, you are amazing at writing the post.

  28. h isam

    September 13, 2017 at 12:44 AM

    thanks for artcle

  29. h isam

    September 13, 2017 at 12:46 AM

    Nice article

  30. h isam

    September 13, 2017 at 12:48 AM

    this arcle is very very nice

  31. usps tracking

    September 26, 2017 at 1:59 AM

    Oh yes the problem i need to find. Your article provides useful information that i am looking for. I will often visit this site.

  32. 2017

    September 28, 2017 at 10:12 AM

    Seacrets Distilling Company Ocean City, MD | Spirits …

  33. KMSpico 10.2.0

    September 30, 2017 at 6:32 PM

    KMSpico 10.2.0

  34. KMSPico

    October 21, 2017 at 11:51 AM

    Hack Online tool for unlimited StarCoins, Diamonds and lifetime VIP, all for free.

  35. Timesjobs

    November 3, 2017 at 12:14 PM

    This is a very interesting webpage and I have enjoyed reading many of the articles and posts contained on the website, keep up the good work and hope to read some more interesting content in the future.

  36. spacechimpgames

    November 7, 2017 at 9:43 AM

    awesome

  37. faceslikes

    November 7, 2017 at 10:11 PM

    Valuable information! Looking forward to seeing your notes posted. The information you have posted is very useful. Keep going on, good stuff. Thank you for this valuable information. I have enjoyed reading many of the articles and posts contained on the website,
    https://apkdownloads.net/faceslikes/

  38. Jio4GVoice

    November 19, 2017 at 10:51 PM

    Thanks for this post here

  39. DVDFab Patch

    December 12, 2017 at 11:03 PM

    Hello, you are amazing at writing the post.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>