But there are also emerging specialisms within North Korea’s IT export sector. Perhaps not surprisingly,
one of these is IT security. North Korea might have an image—warranted
or not—of encouraging cyber attacks,
but it has invested a lot in technology
and expertise to thwart such attacks
on its own systems and, more generally, in security. Fingerprint identification products used for access control
(and time attendance) have already
been exported, and there are other
products developed in areas of car license plate identification, and voice/
On the lighter side, film has been
one of the main forms of state-sup-ported entertainment in the country
since the formal division of the Korean
peninsula into two states in the 1950s.
From this foundation has developed
an export production capacity for
high-quality cartoons and animation.
The specialized state corporation SEK
Studio, established in 1957, has more
than 1,600 employees, and works for
several European film production studios. Other firms have worked on 2D
and 3D animation contracts, and this
is starting to expand into areas of related capability such as computer graphics and games exports for Wii, iPhone,
BlackBerry and other platforms.
Finally, North Korean IT corporations have developed a set of language
skills. English is quite widely used but
specialisms have developed in Chinese
and Japanese alongside (of course)
Korean. North Korea is therefore being used as a base for those who wish
to have software products or systems
translated into East Asian languages.
At present, much of this work is near-shoring; that is, coming from clients
based in China, Japan, or South Korea.
But the potential is there for a wide
range of customers who are targeting
East Asian markets, which are considered especially relevant to small- and
the Challenges and
Future of it outsourcing
North Korea’s IT sector faces a number
of challenges, despite its government’s
eagerness to promote international
collaboration. First, and perhaps largest, is the challenge of perceptions.
North Korea confronts a difficult mix