North Korea has confiscated the complimentary Samsung Galaxy S7 edge Olympic Games Edition smartphones meant for its Olympians, making sure none of its athletes got their gift.
Samsung, one of the main sponsors of the 2016 Rio Summer Olympic Games, wanted no athlete participating in the competition to go home empty-handed.
That is why the OEM crafted a limited edition of Olympic Galaxy S7 edge handsets, with 12,500 units in total reserved for Olympians. The smartphones were supposed to reach the athletes and staff members, enhancing their experience of the competition.
A number of handsets, however, never reached their intended recipients, despite being picked up by an authorized person from the delegation. The phones were destined to reach the athletes representing North Korea, but the manager of the delegation made sure no South Korean electronic device comes to disturb the loyalty of North Korean athletes.
When asked whether she had received her Galaxy S7 edge, one athlete simply shook her head in silence. Insiders from North Korea's Olympic village confirmed that no athlete in the village came close to the devices Samsung prepared for them.
It seems that the Olympic Committee from North Korea decided to refrain from handing over the phones to their 31 competing athletes. One reason for the ban was that the smartphones would permit athletes access to Samsung's Galaxy Studio exhibitions, which would expose North Korean sportspeople to electronics manufactured by South Korea.
Keep in mind that the two countries signed an armistice in the 1950s, but despite the peaceful atmosphere in the Korean peninsula, the two countries are still at odds with each other. This makes it difficult for North Korea to take any gifts that come from companies belonging to South Korea. What is more, sources who pleaded to remain anonymous say that North Korea regularly confiscates gifts from their Olympic athletes, regardless of their origin.
The fact that the gift is actually a smartphone makes matters even more complicated, as North Korea has an iron grip on controlling citizens' contact with outsiders, as well as any internet activity, which a smartphone would facilitate. The country even built its own tightly monitored Red Star OS to isolate itself as much as possible from external influences.
North Korea is one of the few remaining Communist dictatorships still in power and an arch enemy of South Korea, which is another reason why it imposes harsh rules on its own athletes. The Washington Post reports that athletes from North Korea are discouraged from interacting with their peers and cannot visit places of interest.
Samsung did not make any official comment on the North Korean Olympic Committee's decision, and the phones have not been returned to the company.