North Korea’s secret Red Star OS looks exactly like Apple’s OS X

North Korea Operating System

As the most closed-off country on the planet, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the North Korean government developed its own homegrown operating system that can be used to spy on its citizens.

Fueled by an unprecedented level of paranoia and a desire to keep its populace in line and closed off from the outside world, North Koreans outside of the government are completely shut off from the Internet. In its place? A nationwide intranet heavily controlled and monitored by the powers that be. And the mysterious operating system powering most of the computers in the country today? Red Star OS.

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Recently, German researchers Florian Grunow and Niklaus Schiess managed to download a copy of Red Star OS, providing us with unprecedented details surrounding the country’s mysterious operating system. Based on a version of Linux called Fedora, Red Star OS, not surprisingly, leans heavily towards surveillance.

“We found that the features implemented in Red Star OS are the wet dream of a surveillance state dictator,” Grunow and Schiess explained. “It provides a set of surveillance features like the capabilities to watermark different types of files that can be used to track the distribution of documents and multi-media files.”

While that’s to be expected, what’s a little bit surprising is that Red Star OS looks remarkably like Apple’s OS X. You can check out a full 27 minute run down of how Red Star OS operates and what it looks like below, but for now, we’ve compiled a few photos which showcase the OS’ striking similarity to OS X.

Up first, during the installation process, we see a distinctly Aqua look and feel.

red star os x

In this photo, you’ll note the presence of the Mac’s spinning beach ball

red star os sbod

And here’s the desktop which looks exactly like OS X. As a interesting design detail, note how the Apple icon on the upper left hand corner of the menu bar is replaced with a North Korean Red Star.

desktop red star os

Almost comically, when shifting the language to English, we see that the Finder has been renamed KFinder.

desktop k finder

A few more photos.

red star launcher os x

Here’s North Korean Quicktime.

quicktime player

And the System Preferences pane.

system preferences red star os x

Ever wonder what kCal looks like?

kcal red star os x

And a few more photos.

installation red star osos x calendar red star

Part 2 of the Red Star OS walk through can be viewed below.

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