back to article North Korea releases first computer game

Just popped a Wii U under the tree? You poor, poor fool: this Christmas your kids won't clamour for Nintendo's latest, the thumb candy they really want is "Pyongyang Racer", the very first North Korean Computer game! We make that assertion because the in-browser Pyongyang Racer is, at the time of writing, down. Servers at …


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  1. YouStupidBoy

    ... Learnt programming from the ground up

    We all had to start somewhere, but wow, this is bad.

    I confess that I watched the entire clip in the hope that something, somewhere would happen.

    It doesn't.

    Most interesting/funniest bit is the woman cop "Don't look at me I'm on duty"

    Note to devs: Having touristy snippets of text appear is probably not the best idea in a 'racing' game. Maybe that's the reason for the lack of other vehicles as there were times when you could tape the accelerator key down probably nip to the loo and come back with nothing happening.

    And I thought Skyrim was buggy....

    1. Turtle

      Re: ... Learnt programming from the ground up

      "We all had to start somewhere, but wow, this is bad - even if it does compare favorably to Tux Racer."

      Better now.

    2. LarsG


      It's has obviously not been designed for the locals, they are not allowed computers....

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Well,

        I'm guessing this is obviously a fake/joke/sarcasm. The chances of it being real, as the jokes are far from the likes of NK as far as I know?

        1. Anonymous Custard Silver badge

          Re: Well,

          I was just waiting for the eagle to fly in and try to pick up the car...

          That it weirdly hypnotic though, especially the square/triangular "clouds" which seem to keep flashing in the sky. Or was that the secret NK anti-missile shield recently nicked from Israel?

          1. squigbobble

            Re: Well,

            No, it's just a BSP screwup. Unless that's the Norks' latest anti-missile defence system...

            I don't know why they're so concerned that players would fatally oggle a fake Nork WPC, don't they know the decadent West is full of pr0n*? Perhaps they just want to project their concern for women's rights which, i presume, are as non-existent as men's.

            *prawn, as well.

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Up

    On the bright side, it's the first city racing game to accurately reflect real-world rush hour traffic.

    1. Mondo the Magnificent
      Thumb Up

      No traffic in NK

      I watched an hour long documentary on NK, seriously, there is barely any traffic on the roads there..

      So in essence it refelcts backwards world, North Korean traffic...

      1. AceRimmer

        Re: No traffic in NK

        I think that was his point

  3. NozeDive







    I found that a little humorous.

  4. Dave Wallace

    Nork Nork Who's there?

    Never mind.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Just started playing. Feeling a little drowzzzzzzzzzz.....................................

  6. NomNomNom

    better than the war z

  7. Marketing Hack Silver badge

    For a second, I thought this was one of those antique code articles!!

    Well, now I've seen what rush hour traffic looks like in Pyongyang......

    1. Thorne

      Re: For a second, I thought this was one of those antique code articles!!

      "Well, now I've seen what rush hour traffic looks like in Pyongyang......"

      Shouldn't there be more tanks...

      1. Bush_rat

        Re: For a second, I thought this was one of those antique code articles!!

        and less happy people...

        1. Ted Treen

          Re: For a second, I thought this was one of those antique code articles!!

          I think you mean "fewer happy people"...

          "less happy people" would suggest they've had bits removed.

          Oh! Hang on - it's PyongYang. Maybe you're right after all...

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: For a second, I thought this was one of those antique code articles!!

            That would imply some happy people remain. But I think OP was saying that the coefficient of happiness of each individual be reduced.

      2. Fatman Silver badge

        Re: Shouldn't there be more tanks...

        You noticed that too!

        I would a realistic "experience" would be dodging the tanks and other military vehicles, the thousands of armed soldiers, the thousands of propaganda posters, etc.

        If I had to describe this """game""" in one word, it would be "boring".

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    First thought: very limited set of textures

    Second thought: maybe Pyongyang really is that dull and repetitive

    Third thought: glad I'll never find out in person

    1. Alfred
      Thumb Down

      Re: First thought: very limited set of textures

      4th thought; yes, you are not really the type to do any remotely interesting travel. A week in DPRK changes how you think about everything and is truly a mind-blowing exrerience, but sure,

      you stick with Bognor.

    2. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: Second thought: maybe Pyongyang really is that dull and repetitive

      They probably took their cue from the Cold War era communist East Germany/Berlin.

  9. stucs201

    The comparison with Sega Master System games is harsh...

    ...the Sega had some decent games, its unfair on it to say it was as bad as this.

  10. Joe User

    Just a bit overbuilt

    Wow, a 6-lane road with only 10 cars on it. Yep, that looks like North Korea, all right.

  11. detritus

    I thought the Norks had a good rep coding mobile apps and games for Fox network and such?

    Or did I just imagine that?

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge


      They have a good reputation for animation.

      Just look at their accurate representation of New York (at about 00:00:30), they even got the Coca Cola logo right.

      Or at 00:00:21 when they accurately re-created "The Times" title page on the sinking of the Titanic. Of course it's from "Moday 14 Advil 1912" back when that newspaper was experimenting with its "Internet Edition".

      1. detritus

        Re: Animation

        Jesus Christ, I rescind everything I've ever said about everyhing!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    They have buildings there? Well, yes, I guessed they have buildings, but do they really have that many? Someone should count them.

  13. Magani

    " engineers are selected from the mathematics elite and learn programming from the ground-up, such as assembler to C#, but also Linux kernel and Visual Basic macros."

    That's all very well, but what did the person who wrote this game learn?

  14. jake Silver badge

    And here I thought ...

    ... NORK's computers were a game, by definition?

    An easy, beginner game, to be sure, but a game just the same.

  15. Christian Berger Silver badge

    Now ist the music really that bad...

    Or did TheReg use a microphone on top of the speaker?

    1. Christian Berger Silver badge

      Re: Now ist the music really that bad...

      Ah yes, the other videos have _much_ better sound. Here's one with just the music:

  16. Christian Berger Silver badge


    North Korean Flash code running on many western computers...

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I call BS

    Obvious fake, I didn't see a single unicorn.

  18. Potemkine Silver badge

    Nosotek is accomplice to crimes and should be judged accordingly

    North Korea is a dictatorship the Stalinian way. The north korean camps are similar to Dachau or Buchenwald, with crimes committed there at a scale and a sadism even Dante could not dream of. Entire families are decimated, tortures, rapes, assassinations are routine.

    Every company working with and for North Korea is accomplice of the crimes committed there. As we trial sexual predators there when they commit their crimes in a foreign country, the same should be made for the guys behind Nosotek.

    1. Anonymous Coward

      Re: Nosotek is accomplice to crimes and should be judged accordingly

      I get your point, but you can't punish everyone even tangentially related to a country as if they perpetrated the worst crimes its government has committed. By that logic, anyone who works for Bushmaster is an accomplice to the Sandy Hook murders.You could make an argument that if you work for a company making assault weapons, and you know that they're sometimes used in homicides, you bear some responsibility - but in my mind, there are some mitigating factors:

      1) Was your product or action instrumental in the incident? Did you design the gun, or did you just do IT support for the secretaries who assisted the sales team? There's a difference.

      2) Could you have prevented the incident by your action (changing what you did on the job) or inaction (refusing to work for the company)?

      3) Was the incident reasonably predictable? Was it specific?

      4) Is the product the company makes intended specifically to perpetrate said incident? For example, if you build a car that's used by a woman to run over her philandering husband, it's clear that cars aren't built specifically for that purpose; likewise, if you build a cruise missile, it's fairly clear that the idea is to kill people. With guns, the case is less-clear-cut; they can be used for sport or as a deterrent - Bushmaster doesn't make guns with the specific purpose of mass murder.

      5) Personal risk of action or inaction. If you'll be financially ruined and your family harmed if you take a moral position, but that position is based not on the certainty of harm but a general feeling of 'something bad might happen', I think there's an argument to be made that you have lessened responsibility. Asking an assembly-line worker to take on the might of a huge company and lose his job in the name of abstract good is asking an awful lot. For a wealthy CEO with a golden parachute, however, the standards are different.

      So if you look at, say, the Sandy Hook killings:

      If you're a low-level grunt, you don't bear much responsibility. You couldn't have done anything to stop or alter the circumstances; your leaving your job wouldn't have prevented the product from reaching the killer; the weapon isn't specifically meant to mass-murder people, and mass-murders, while known to happen, are still rare, and it's entirely plausible for a given kind of weapon to never be used in such a crime.

      On the other hand, if you're the CEO or a board member, things are a bit different. You could possibly have done something to stop or alter the circumstances - say, by not producing semi-automatic weapons. If you were high on the totem pole and quit because of your concerns, making a public issue of it, it might have altered the company's actions and product line. But - both of those are fairly unlikely. CEOs don't just get to say, 'No more assault weapons'; quitting on principle might generate no publicity at all and might even result in your replacement enhancing programs to build assault rifles. So, it's clear that a CEO has *more* responsibility for the use of his company's products, but not *necessarily* a significant personal culpability. There are cases, however - Bhopal, say - where the actions or inactions of one or two individuals might have cost or saved hundreds of lives.

      OK, so, where do our programmers come in? I don't think they're very high on the culpability scale.

      1) Their product has almost nothing to do with the crime. The most serious argument you could make is that the game makes people feel more positive about DPRK, and in so doing encourages the government to keep its current policy. But you could also argue that the less isolated the DPRK is, the more likely it is to soften its actions - or, conversely, you could make a pretty good case that the software in question will do more to cause mockery than sympathy, in which case the programmers have harmed the DPRK rather than helping it.

      2) If any given coder or artist (and I use the terms loosely) had quit or spoken up (which would be the same as quitting, really) it would have had basically zero impact on prison camps. Nobody would have said, "Shit, I was going to beat this prisoner, but the Pyongyang driving simulator isn't done yet, so I can't". Even if the entire team had quit, or the company had never signed on, the project either would have gone to another company or would have been shelved - in neither case measurably affecting the scale or seriousness of NK's crimes.

      3) DPRK committing serious crimes is a given and a constant. The programmers knew damn well who they were dealing with; no skating away on this particular point.

      4) Obviously the driving simulator's purpose is not to harm prisoners - the only people it harms are Westerners who have the misfortune of trying it. As bad as it is, that's still not as bad as murder.

      5) It's impossible to say what personal risk any of the developers faced, but I'm going to go out on a limb and guess that they didn't have a ton of lucrative projects lined up. They probably had a lot to lose if they didn't take the gig.

      One more point - one could also argue that having the DPRK pay you to make a useless piece-of-crap game is, on balance, a good thing; it's less money the DPRK has to spend on nukes and prison camps.

      In the end, the developers couldn't have made anything better by doing things differently, they didn't help (and probably harmed) the regime and/or its reputation, and the individuals may well have suffered serious personal consequences (financial, career, political possibly?) if they had balked. I think it's unreasonable to condemn them as accomplices.

      ...yeesh. How's that for a rebuttal, eh?

      1. Fatman Silver badge

        Re: So, it's clear that a CEO has *more* responsibility ....

        Quoting you:

        So, it's clear that a CEO has *more* responsibility for the use of his company's products, but not *necessarily* a significant personal culpability. There are cases, however - Bhopal, say - where the actions or inactions of one or two individuals might have cost or saved hundreds of lives.

        I can add another case to that list: the BP oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. There are at least 3 CEO's who heads ought to be held responsible,

        1) BP's

        2) Halliburton, and

        3) the CEO of the drilling company (their name escapes me).

        In all fairness, the head of BP has been deservedly pilloried in the media, but not much said about the other two. And, that should not be the case.

  19. MJI Silver badge


    I thought it was funny at the Olympics they played the wrong anthem as they thought Democratic meant elections ect.

    I would have played the song of TAWP

    1. Bumpy Cat

      Re: DPRK

      "Any nation that has the word democratic or peoples' in the name is neither."

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: DPRK

        "Any nation that has the word democratic or peoples' in the name is neither."

        And any nation that features BOTH words in its name... well, you have to have a grudging admiration for their sheer chutzpah...

  20. Dr Patrick J R Harkin

    Needs a new name...

    How about "Grand Collaborative Effort For The Good Of The State Auto"?

  21. GloriousVictoryForThePeople

    That'll be the final nail in Sony's coffin then

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "That'll be the final nail in Sony's coffin then"

      They haven't buried him yet? What will Cher say?

  22. Chris Holt

    Come back Outrun all is forgiven

    Circa 1986..yes I know. Ask your parents*

    (* or, in the case of a lot of people reading this, you are the parents now. Depressing?)

  23. MikeyD85

    Impatiently Waiting

    For this to come out on XBLA. I feel the analogue controls provided by the 360 pad will make the handling model of this game feel much more sim like. The sense of speed is already phenomenal. Gran Turismo and Forza will be terrified of this superior release.

  24. kyza

    This is a triumph for the Great Leader & The Spirit of his Departed Father

    Seriously tho, it's made me want to dig out Mercenaries on the PS2 and play the Pyongyang level where you get to call in an airstrike on Ryugyong hotel.

  25. Patrick 17

    Game isn't fake; economic cooperation with DPRK is a good thing

    Cooperating economically with DPRK/North Korea is the best way for it to gradually become a regular country. Trade and markets are slowly improving the lives of DPRK's citizens and allowing them to be less dependent on the government (who are clearly corrupt and uninterested in supporting the population). China has the most influence over DPRK and is pushing DPRK into becoming a market economy. Sanctions are making things worse for the average citizen (the government can always get around them).

    To the person who said the game is fake and not from North Korea - you're wrong. Koryo Tours is a British company that takes tours to DPRK (and various other countries). I've travelled there with them myself. One of their guides, Hannah, helped publicise this game - she was recently pictured in the media on top of the pyramid of doom (Ryugyong Hotel) - the first Westener to go up there. They've done loads of projects with North Korea - the most recent being a North Korean film that's just been shown in a South Korean film festival. See if interested.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Game isn't fake; economic @Patrick 17

      "Trade and markets are slowly improving the lives of DPRK's citizens"

      Like it has in Zimbabwe? I think you'll find the benefits of trade only trickle down when you have a pretence of democracy and the rule of law.

    2. Fatman Silver badge

      Re: Cooperating ... with DPRK/North Korea is the best way ....

      In a perfect world, that may be true, but the world has had to tolerate those arrogant assholes since 1953, and their shit is getting tiresome. (60 fucking years, mind you!)

      So, a better solution would be a 'quick" end to the suffering of the N Korean people (and the rest of the world, BTW).

      The easiest way to accomplish that is to remove the government. As to how, that is left as an exercise for the reader.

      1. Anonymous Coward

        Re: Cooperating ... with DPRK/North Korea is the best way ....

        I dispute your assertion that removing the NK government would bring "a quick end" to the suffering of the NK people...

  26. SuperHoopMango

    The 80's called and would like their programmers back....

    That's 8 mins of my life that I'll NEVER get back!

    And considering I only have 34 mins left before the Mayan Apocalypse that makes me very unhappy

    1. pPPPP

      So how did that apocalypse go for you?

    2. asdf Silver badge


      At work so don't want to chance videos but do we finally have a contender for the worst game of all time? Here is the undisputed champion (no offense to superman 64 or ET but talking pound for pound).

      1. stucs201

        Re: hmm

        There's also the spectrum version of Sqij to consider too...

  27. George Nacht

    Speaking of Ryugyong Hotel

    I can not access it now, but can someone (less lucky) tell me, whether the Ryugyong Hotel eyesore is actually featured between the "monuments" in the game? I know North Koreans have a habit of photoshopping it out of all Pyongyang postcards, photos, and the tourist guides often pretend it does not exist at all. Did they put it in game?

    1. pPPPP

      Re: Speaking of Ryugyong Hotel

      Yes. And it would appear to be finished, and have revolving restaurants. No food, of course.

  28. Electric Panda

    Bow down

    This is the best selling and greatest computer game of all time, written from scratch by the Great Leader and Marshal Generalissimo Kim Il Sung in one afternoon without a computer and any knowledge of programming. Every dearly loved citizen of the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea plays this game regularly and there are local championships. Such work is naturally preferable to the bourgeous south Korean "StarCraft" loathsome propaganda.

    You belligerent, viperous and insidious capitalist Yankee pig dogs fail again to show the required deference, so we shall turn Seoul into a sea of fire by launching another fauly ex-Soviet rocket.

    1. Tim Walker

      Re: Bow down

      Kim Il-sung* wrote this game? I knew he was made out by his state personality cult to be a polymath genius, but if dying in 1994 couldn't stop him in his coding efforts, that's quite a testament to his supernatural abilities...

      ...then again, if the "Eternal Leader" really produced this when he was alive, it might explain the 1980s visuals...

    2. Fatman Silver badge
      Big Brother

      Re: Bow down

      That made me laugh.

      I suspect you forgot the <sarcasm> tags.

      Icon appropriate for NKorea!

  29. KA1AXY
    Thumb Down

    Malware vector?

    In other news, NORK botnet gains thousands of nodes...

    //riveting graphics

  30. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Missing feature?

    Could someone who sat through the whole video (and therefore showed six minutes' more patience than I did), please do me a favour and let me know...

    ...did they see any portraits of any of the Great/Dear/Eternal/Yadayada Leaders on the sides of any buildings?

    If not: well, I'm sure that must be a Gulag-able offence for a hapless game designer...

  31. This post has been deleted by its author

  32. Steady Eddy

    Search online for pictures of "north korean traffic police" - they're hot!

  33. Sureo

    We'll see this in Google Street View soon?

  34. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    This thing must be riddled with spyware. Would you really trust anything coded in North Korea?

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