How much do you know about North Korea, really? Other than the random information you’ve picked up through the hundred memes made on its leader? Not a lot I’m sure! Go through this list of secrets of North Korea and while some are funny and others are just plain tragic, I guarantee there’s a lot here you’ve never heard of before! This country housing over 24.9 million people has a wide array of absolutely bizarre and almost depressing secrets that are not known anywhere in the world.
The year is not 2017
The people of North Korea do not follow the same calendar as the rest of the world, or even South Korea. Its calendar is based on Kim II-Sung’s date of birth, which is 15th April 1912. Kim II-Sung is also still considered the country’s eternal leader even though his heirs took over the country years ago. So technically, North Korea will celebrate the coming in of the New Year 106 this year, instead of 2017! Pretty cool isn’t it? In addition, if you’re born on the death anniversary of Kim II-Sung, it is considered illegal to celebrate your birthday.
The “Three Generations of Punishment” Rule
In North Korea, if a citizen commits a crime and is sent to prison camp to work, the entire family must follow, or three generations of it at least! Grandparents, parents, and children of the criminal are sent along with him to work in the prison camp. It is a result of this law that the crime rate is very low in North Korea.
Literacy rate of North Korea is 99%
Yes! According to the North Korean regime, the literacy rate of the country is same as that of the US- 99%! But what is lesser known is that literacy of an individual is determined by his ability to write Kim II-Sung’s name as well as Kim Jong-Il, not even their own! School children however have to pay for everything from chairs and desks to electricity and heating. As a result of this, most parents pull their kids out of school.
0.0% of the Population Uses the Internet
Yes, you read that right. Can you imagine not having WhatsApp, Snapchat, or Facebook? There are reportedly less than 1000 people who have access to the internet in the entire country! This number accounts for less than even 0.5% of the population. Even for entertainment outside the internet, citizens don’t have much variety. There are only three TV channels, two of which only work on weekends and the third only in the evenings!
Jeans are not Allowed
North Korea considers the US its worst enemy and so, blue jeans, which are for some reason, considered a symbol of the United States are banned in the entire nation. While there seems to be no formal dress code that is otherwise being implemented, it is impossible for a North Korean citizen to wear jeans and not face consequences! In addition to this ‘no jeans’ rule, there are a stipulated number of haircut styles that men are allowed to get. The current count is at 28 hairstyles! Women are allowed to style their hair however they want provided it is short after marriage but long before.
Drinking is Prohibited
Drinking or buying alcohol is strictly prohibited in North Korea, unless with a special license. However, smoking marijuana is legal and is in fact encouraged as a healthy alternative to tobacco smoking. All over the country, people have occupations growing and selling marijuana.
Kijong-dong: The Fake City
Kijong-dong was built by the father of present ruler Kim Jong-Il. This city has no actual residents but has huge residential and official buildings that are fitted with lights that go on and off on set timers as well as maintenance people who sweep streets to show some semblance of human activity. However, use of advanced technology and telescopes have shown that most of these buildings don’t have windows and in fact some of them don’t even have rooms on the inside!
The entire city was built based on propaganda to indicate that North Korea was superior to the South and people should therefore defect from South to North! As if this city is not unbelievable enough, North Korea’s capital Pyongyang is only home to elite people who are considered honest, trustworthy, and deserving by the regime. The rest of the country lives in abysmal and poor conditions with no electricity or proper food!
“Democratic” Elections Every 5 Years
North Korea is supposed to be a democratic state that elects its leader based on the people’s opinion. Every five years, an election is held but unlike in other democratic states, the ballot papers have only one name on them. Yes, only one! There is no way to add another representative’s name but, a citizen can choose not to vote for the supreme leader by crossing out the name on the ballot paper. However, as there is no privacy when it comes to this, it has been noted that those who try to go against the government or oppose the regime in any way, are usually considered criminal offenders and are punished by law.
South Korean Film Director -Abducted to Remake Movies
Seems like a Hollywood plot itself! But Kim Jong-Il is such a big fan of the film industry that he had South Korean director Shin Sang-ok kidnapped and brought to North Korea. He was forced to direct and/or remake famous Hollywood films into propaganda films. The most famous of these films was a remake of Godzilla that was titles Pulgasari. After eight years of being forced to work under the North Korean regime, Sang-ok managed to escape during a film festival that was being held in Vienna.
Border Tensions between North and South
Since the splitting of Korea into two factions, tensions have only increased between the two. In fact, today they are so bad that while opening the door to North Korea, South Korea army personnel hold hands so that they aren’t pulled to the other side. As incredible and unbelievable as this sounds, it is true and is mainly a result of heavy punishment for those who defect from North Korea elsewhere. In fact, over the past sixty years, there have been an estimated 23,500 people who have left North Korea and only two who shifted from North Korea back to the South.
Citizens are Sold by the Regime
Studies, although not corroborated completely yet, have stated that the North Korean regime has been selling its own people into slavery in Russia. Apparently, these slaves are forced to work in logging camps to the point of complete exhaustion. This wood is apparently sold to a British company and is used to manufacture furniture that is used in households all over the world.
Tourists Can’t Carry Mobile Phones
When tourists visit North Korea, their phones are confiscated at the airport and returned only at the end of the trip. Even if cameras are taken inside the country, people are not allowed to photograph the poor or even talk to them. The regime believes that photographing the poor will ruin the image of North Korea. Tourists are not allowed to move around the country on their own and are constantly under supervision of a tour guide.
This list hopefully leaves you with food for thought and encourages you to look up more on North Korea and its secrets. Happy reading!