Red Star OS
붉은별 사용자용체계
Screenshot of the desktop of Red Star OS 3.0, localized with North Korean terminology and spelling
DeveloperKorea Computer Center, North Korea
OS familyLinux (desktop and server),
Android (on Woolim, Arirang, Samjiyon, Manbang, Jindallae and Ryonghung)[1][2][3]
Working stateCurrent
Source model
Latest release4.0
Marketing targetPersonal computers
Available inKorean
PlatformsIA-32, x86-64 (server only), ARM (mobile and tablet only)
Kernel typeMonolithic forked from (Linux kernel)
Influenced byFedora Linux (desktop), CentOS (Server), Android (mobile and tablet)[4]
user interface
LicenseGPL (Linux kernel and other GNU software only), Proprietary

Red Star OS (Korean붉은별; MRPulgŭnbyŏl) is a North Korean Linux distribution, with development first starting in 1998 at the Korea Computer Center (KCC). Prior to its release, computers in North Korea typically used Red Hat Linux,[6] and later switched to modified versions of Microsoft Windows with North Korean language packs installed.[7]

Version 3.0 was released in the summer of 2013, but as of 2014, version 1.0 continues to be more widely used.[verification needed] It is offered only in a Korean language edition, localized with North Korean terminology and spelling.[8]


Red Star OS features a modified Mozilla Firefox browser called Naenara ("My country" in Korean), which is used for browsing the Naenara web portal on North Korea's national intranet known as Kwangmyong. Naenara comes with two search engines. Other software includes a text editor, an office suite, an e-mail client, audio and video players, a file sharing program, and video games.[9][10][11] Version 3, like its predecessors, utilizes Wine, a compatibility layer that allows Windows programs to be run under Linux.[12]

The operating system utilizes customized versions of KDE Software Compilation. Earlier versions had KDE 3-based desktops. Version 3.0 closely resembles Apple's macOS, whereas previous versions more closely resembled Windows XP;[13][14] current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was seen with an iMac on his desk in a 2013 photo, indicating a possible connection to the redesign.[15][16][17]

System requirements
Red Star OS
CPU 800 MHz Intel Pentium III [18][19]
Memory 256 MB
Free space 3 GB

Media attention

Built-in games in Version 2.0 of Red Star OS, including versions of Atomix and Minesweeper.

The Japan-based North Korea-affiliated newspaper Choson Sinbo interviewed two Red Star OS programmers in June 2006.[6] English-language technology blogs, including Engadget and OSnews, as well as South Korean wire services such as Yonhap, went on to repost the content.[8][20][21] In late 2013, Will Scott, who was visiting the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, purchased a copy of version 3 from a KCC retailer in southern Pyongyang, and uploaded screenshots to the internet.[12]

In 2015, two German researchers speaking at the Chaos Communication Congress[22] described the internal operation of the OS.[23] The North Korean government wants to track the underground market of USB flash drives used to exchange foreign films, music and writing,[24] so the system watermarks all files on portable media attached to computers.[25]


Version 1.0/Beta

The boot-up splash screen of Red Star 1.0
Desktop of Red Star 1.0 and the default file manager

The first version appeared in 2008. It is very reminiscent of the Windows XP operating system.

It featured the "Naenara" web browser, based on Mozilla Firefox, and an Office suite based on Open Office, called "Uri 2.0". Wine is also included.

One copy has been leaked online. The screenshots of the operating system were officially published by KCNA and discovered by South Korean news sites.[11]

Version 2.0

Desktop of Red Star 2.0

The development of version 2.0 began in March 2008, and was completed on June 3 2009. Like its predecessor, its appearance resembles Windows XP, and was priced at 2000 North Korean won (approx. US$15).

The "Naenara" internet browser is also included in this version. The browser was released on 6 August 2009, as part of the operating system, and was priced at 4000 North Korean won (approx. US$28).

The operating system uses a special keyboard layout that differs greatly from the South Korean standard layout.[citation needed]

Version 3.0

Utility to obtain root privileges in Red Star OS 3
Sogwang office (customized OpenOffice) in Red Star OS 3

Version 3.0 was introduced on April 15, 2012, and its appearance resembles macOS operating systems of various versions.[26] The new version supports both IPv4 and IPv6 addresses.

The operating system comes pre-installed with a number of applications that monitor its users. If a user tries to disable security functions, an error message will appear on the computer, or the operating system will crash and reboot. In addition, a watermarking tool integrated into the system marks all media content with the hard drive's serial number, allowing the North Korean authorities to trace the spread of files. The system also has hidden "antivirus" software that is capable of removing censored files that are remotely stored by the North Korean Secret Service. There is a user group called "administrator" in the operating system. Users do not have root access by default, but are able to elevate their privileges to root by running a built-in utility called "rootsetting". However, provisions are made in kernel modules to deny even root users access to certain files, and extensive system integrity checks are done at boot time to ensure these files have not been modified.[22]

Red Star OS 3 comes with a customized version of OpenOffice called Sogwang Office.[22]

The operating system was leaked by Zammis Clark ("SlipStream").[27]

Version 4.0

Little information is available on version 4.0.

According to The Pyongyang Times, an official version of Red Star OS 4.0 had been developed by January 2019, with full network support as well as system and service management tools.[28]

In June and July 2020, South Korea's NKEconomy (NK경제) obtained a copy of Red Star OS 4.0 and have published articles about it.[29][30][31][32]


In 2016, the computer security company Hacker House found a security vulnerability in the integrated web browser Naenara. This vulnerability makes it possible to execute commands on the computer if the user clicks on a crafted link.[33][34]


  1. ^ "Domestic Tablet". NKNews. Retrieved 2022-07-07.
  2. ^ "Domestic Tablet". NKNews. Retrieved 2022-07-07.
  3. ^ "North Korean Smartphone". Mashable. Retrieved 2022-07-07.
  4. ^ "Inside North Korea's Totalitarian Operating System". Motherboard. 27 December 2015. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  5. ^ "Red Star OS". ArchiveOS. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  6. ^ a b Kim, Chi-yong (2006-06-21), "〈민족정보산업의 부흥 -상-〉 《우리식 콤퓨터조작체계(OS) 》의 개발과 도입", Choson Sinbo (in Korean), archived from the original on 2007-12-23
  7. ^ "North Korea's 'paranoid' computer operating system revealed". The Guardian. 27 December 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2018.
  8. ^ a b Nam, Hyeon-ho (2010-03-03), 北, 독자적 컴퓨터 운영체제 '붉은별' 개발, Yonhap News (in Korean), retrieved 2013-01-23
  9. ^ "Naenara: Exploring a North Korean Computer & Internet". Koryo Tours. November 20, 2019. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  10. ^ Locker, Theresa (January 7, 2015). "You Can Now Install the Original North Korean Operating System RedStar 3.0". Vice News. Retrieved August 14, 2021.
  11. ^ a b Tong-hyung, Kim (5 April 2010). "NK Goes for Linux-Based Operating System". The Korea Times.
  12. ^ a b Williams, Martyn (January 31, 2014). "North Korea's Red Star OS Goes Mac". North Korea Tech. Martyn Williams. Retrieved July 23, 2014.
  13. ^ "Apple's Mac OSX imitated in latest North Korea system". BBC News. 2014-02-05. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  14. ^ "North Korean computers get 'Apple' makeover". Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  15. ^ "Apple's Mac OS X imitated in latest North Korea system". BBC News. 2014-02-05.
  16. ^ "North Korean computers get 'Apple' makeover". The Daily Telegraph. 5 February 2014. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  17. ^ "North Korean computers get iMac makeover". Business Insider. Retrieved 2022-07-07.
  18. ^ "A Visual Guide To North Korea's Totalitarian Operating System". Fast Company. 2014-09-23. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  19. ^ "North Korea's Red Star OS takes the 'open' out of 'open source'". Engadget. 4 March 2010. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  20. ^ Holwerda, Thom (2009-03-04), "North Korea Develops Its Own Linux Distribution", OSNews, retrieved 2013-01-23
  21. ^ Flatley, Joseph L. (2009-03-04), "North Korea's Red Star OS takes the 'open' out of 'open source'", Engadget, retrieved 2013-01-23
  22. ^ a b c Florian Grunow; Niklaus Schiess (2015-12-28). Lifting the Fog on Red Star OS - A deep dive into the surveillance features of North Korea's operating system. Chaos Communication Congress 32.
  23. ^ Jeremy Wagstaff and James Pearson (27 December 2015). "Paranoid: North Korea's computer operating system mirrors its political one". Reuters.
  24. ^ James Pearson (27 March 2015). "The $50 device that symbolizes a shift in North Korea". Reuters.
  25. ^ "RedStar OS Watermarking". Insinuator. 16 July 2015.
  26. ^ Williams, Martyn (2014-12-30). "Red Star 3.0 Desktop finally becomes public". North Korea Tech - 노스코리아테크. Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  27. ^ "r/linux - I managed to get a hold of the latest version of that North Korean Linux distro, in some shape or form. Here's a torrent of Red Star OS 3.0 Server". reddit. 2 June 2014. Retrieved 2022-07-14.
  28. ^ "The Pyongyang Times" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2019-05-18. Retrieved 2019-01-12.
  29. ^ "북한 붉은별4.0에 오라클 버추얼박스를 탑재하고 있다" [Oracle Virtualbox is installed in DPRK's Red Star 4.0]. NK경제 (NKEconomy). 2020-06-15.
  30. ^ "붉은별4.0 서광 오피스에서 MS워드 파일 편집 가능하다" [Sogwang Office in Red Star 4.0 can edit Microsoft Word files]. NK경제 (NKEconomy). 2020-06-23.
  31. ^ "북한 붉은별 4.0의 기본 브라우저는? 파이어폭스" [The default web browser in Red Star 4.0 is Firefox]. NK경제 (NKEconomy). 2020-07-06.
  32. ^ "붉은별4.0의 비밀번호 관리는 키체인으로?" [Password management in Red Star 4.0 is done by keychain?]. NK경제 (NKEconomy). 2020-07-21.
  33. ^ "RedStar OS 3.0: Remote Arbitrary Command Injection". Archived from the original on December 5, 2016. Retrieved August 31, 2020.
  34. ^ Wei, Wang. "North Korea's Linux-based Red Star OS can be Hacked Remotely with just a Link". The Hacker News. Retrieved 2017-08-31.