25 Bizarre Things You Didn’t Know About North Korea ‘The Strangest Place on Earth’
How can you NOT want to know more about North Korea? By being so isolated and cut-off from the rest of the world, the leaders of North Korea have consistently aroused the suspicions of the outside world. Peer behind the curtain with these 25 mind-blowing North Korea facts, and be glad you dont live in this literal hell on earth.
25. In North Korea, possessing Bibles, watching South Korean movies and distributing pornography may be punishable by death.
In November of 2013, the government executed 80 people in public for watching South Korean movies and owning Bibles. According to one source, women and children were brought into a sports stadium and forced to watch people being shot dead by machine-gun fire. Despite it being illegal, it is estimated that there are 100,000 Christians living in North Korea.
24. One of the most eyebrow raising regulations is the inability for North Koreans to wears jeans. Reports state that denim is a crime as it symbolizes the enemy the United States of America. In a whole slew of restrictions, Kim Jong-un recently issued a ban on jeans and piercings. Pyongyang, the countrys elite-infested capital fears that its citizens are being exposed to western clothing.
23. In 1974, Kim Il-sung took 1,000 Volvo sedans worth 300M from Sweden to North Korea and never paid for them. They were never returned and are currently still being used.
Tor Rauden Kllstigen, a Swedish photographer and entrepreneur who traveled to North Korea in 2008 says,
Many of the Volvos were put to serve in the small but very present taxi fleet in Pyongyang.I think Ive never been inside such an old car even back home in Sweden. This taxi was very well maintained too, close to mint condition it seemed.
The fact remains that despite the semi-annual reminders of payment by the Swedish risk advisory, North Korea refuses to pay for stealing (rather, scamming) Sweden out of the 1,000 Volvos. North Korea now considers Sweden a US pawn that is manipulated by the imperialists.
22. Kim Jong-il was apparently born under a double rainbow and his birth caused a new star to appear in the sky; he learned to walk and talk before 6 months and had the ability to control the weather by his moods, according to the official government-released biography of his life.
As part of its propaganda and brain-washing methods, the government elevates its leaders to a godlike status in the minds of the average citizen. School children are taught fantastic and obviously untrue things about their leaders to keep them in awe and fear of the regime.
21. According to the government of North Korea, the countrys literacy rate is 100% and it boasts that it is on par with the U.S. With the supposed 100% literacy rate, North Korea ranks equally with the U.S., U.K., and champions hundreds of other countries on that front.
According to Asian scholars like Andrei Lankov, this is accomplished by teaching school children how to write the names of President for Eternity Kim, Il-sung and Dear Leader Kim, Jong-il before they can write their own name and that of their parents. Once this is done, the North Korean Government declares the student literate in writing. The authenticity of this information still remains to be proved, however.
20. A night image of the Korean Peninsula taken by NASA illustrates the sheer isolation and underlying electricity problems in North Korea. Compared to its neighbours South Korea and China, it is completely dark.
Since the defunct Soviet Union stopped supplying power to North Korea in the early 1990s, the country has become entirely energy-bankrupt. Compared to South Korea, where each person consumes 10,162-kilowatt hours of power, the average North Korean uses just 739. Recently released photos from the International Space Station show how North Korea completely blends into the surrounding blackness, other than a couple of small spots of light.
19. Public transportation connecting the main towns is nearly non-existent as citizens need permits to go from one place to another even within the country. Because of this, the streets in North Korea are so empty that children use them as playgrounds and soldiers can be seen hitchhiking on the highways.
In addition to the massive public transport problem, freedom of movement in North Korea is also extremely limited and citizens are rarely allowed to move around freely inside their own country. Cars are strange, foreign things to children and old people that move around on the deserted streets, and often put their lives in danger while crossing the road without looking for oncoming vehicles.
18. There are an estimated 34,000 statues of Kim Il Sung in North Korea one for every 3.5 km, or one for every 750 people. All North Koreans are also required to wear a badge featuring his face as a mark of their loyalty to the founder of the nation.
Wearing the badge on their lapels is a daily ritual for everyone and in a city where people rarely carry expensive or valuable items and credit cards, they are highly prized by pickpockets and thieves. So much so, that each badge can be exchanged on the black market for several hundred NKW.
17. Border relations between North and South Korea are so tense that when soldiers from the South open the door to the North in the Demilitarized Zone, they hold hands to avoid being physically pulled into the other side.
If that doesnt sound crazy enough, heres something. In 2014, South Korean Christians put up a Christmas tree visible from the North Korean Border. North Korea responded by calling it a tool for psychological warfare and threatened to bomb it.
16. In North Korea, the Internet is limited to a very small circle of the elite (only 1,579 IP addresses exist for a population of 25 million). They also have their own operating system called Red Star and the content is pre-filtered by the state.
Chats, emails, and forum boards are regularly monitored and Internet access in general is only permitted with special authorization and primarily used for government purposes or by foreigners.
15. North Korea smokes weed everyday. Distribution, possession and consumption of cannabis is legal in North Korea, and in fact, is recommended as a healthier alternative to tobacco.
According to Sokeel Park, the director of research and strategy at Liberty In North Korea, cannabis grows wildly in North Korea is even sold abroad by government agencies to earn foreign currency. Marijuana is also as good as legal since there is no stigma attached to it and neither is it fetishized as much as it is in the west.
14. North Korea loves the accordion. In the 1990s, it was made compulsory for all teachers in North Korea to learn how to play the accordion.
The accordion was often called the peoples instrument since it was easy to carry along anywhere. There would be accompanied singing to tunes such as We Have Nothing to Envy in the World, which was a rehash of Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star.
13. North Korea follows a three generations of punishment rule, meaning that if one person violated the law or was sent to prison, their children, parents and grandparents are sent to work with them.
Anyone found guilty of committing a crime (which could be as little as trying to escape North Korea), is sent to the infamous Kaechon internment camp along with their entire family. The subsequent two generations would be born in the camp and must also live their entire lives in servitude and die there.
12. North Korea likes Photoshop. In 2015, Kim Jong-un hailed the recent test of a submarine-launched missile. However, experts have proven that the images are Photoshopped.
This wasnt the first time North Korea attempted to intimidate the world only to have images proven to be also Photoshopped. In its recent history, North Korean state media released images of hovercrafts coming to the shores. However, the vehicles were shown to be digital mirrors of each other. Other instances of it being used include images where Kim Jong-il stands next to other military generals; he is always made to look at their height despite his obvious smaller stature.
11. One of the most fascinating facts on our list is that North Korea is the only country in the world that is a Necrocracy a government that still operates under the rules of a former, dead ruler Kim Il-sung. Leave it to North Korea to do what is not done anywhere around the world. All our other facts make reference to this form of government: the calendar revolving around their leaders birth date, the inability for citizens to celebrate their own birthdays if they happen to land on the day of his death, and the confirmation of a unicorns origin in the country.
The cult-like environment is meant to hypnotize the citizenry in a sort of folklore rather than live in the reality of poverty and oppression. Sadly, the current structure is poised to continue on with Kim Jong-un as the countrys supreme leader.
10. The NADA 'Space Agency'. Although the United States is considered the mortal enemy of North Korea, the nations creation of a space program had a striking resemblance to its American counterparts (NASA) logo. The one problem? Its acronym was a little off, or fitting based on the programs achievements. Although nada is Spanish, its almost universally used in the Western world in general to mean nothing. Thats exactly what the North Korean Space agency has accomplished: nada.
According to the North Korean Central News Agency, the establishment of the space program begins the fulfillment of Kim Il-sungs and Kim Jong-ils North Korea as a space power. With a name like NADA, were sure theyll be able to explore all the nothings of the universe.
9. The North Korean regime has long enforced strict rules on styling ones hair; most of the barber shops in Pyongyang advertise photos of government-sanctioned haircuts.
Men are encouraged to look like their supreme leader and overall only 28 hairstyles are allowed in the country in total. According to a Time magazine report, married women are instructed to keep their hair-length short, while the single ladies are allowed let loose with longer, curlier locks. Such control of its citizenrys daily life shows how systemic the problems are in the country.
8. In Seth Rogens film The Interview, they introduce a grocery store that is in the middle of town. It seems to be full of food and attempts to represent a healthy city life, but it turns out to be faux. In reality, a mere grocery store is underselling it. Kim Jong-il sponsored the creation of a whole city at the border of North and South Korea to promote immigration by the South Koreans.
Not only did the supreme leader lead the construction of a fake city, but North Korea was also graced with the worlds largest building/hotel a 105 story pyramid called the Ryugyong Hotel, located in Pyongyang. Unfortunately, the 3,000+ room structure remains unused and stands empty.
7. Its one thing to love movies, its another thing to use your power to further a psychotic film producing agenda. Kim Jong-Il was reported to be an obsessive film buff with a collection of 20,000 plus video tapes. He even produced a patriotic 100-part documentary series on the history of the North Korean homeland while somehow writing a book titled: On the Art of Cinema. It is unknown what type of qualification he had to author such a book.
Kim Jong-Ils obsession became frightening when he kidnapped a director to create acclaimed North Korean films. Nabbing him and his wife, Kim Jong-il forced Shin Sang-ok to make films under his reign. Luckily, the director (pictured below) successfully escaped years later.
6. North Korea has a MASSIVE stadium. With a capacity of 150,000, the largest stadium in the world is the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium' in Pyongyang, North Korea. Completed on May 1, 1989, the May 1st Stadium was originally constructed for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students.
Although the stadium is used as a sporting venue, hosting football (soccer) and a few other athletic events, it is more famous as the sight of the annual mass games. This massive gymnastic and artistic event features over 100,000 participants, and is done to celebrate uniformity and the power of the group in the communist state. May Day Stadium was also the site for the public execution of dissenting generals in the late 1990s.
5. While most calendars are based on the Gregorian calendar reform, North Koreas calendar is based on, wait for it... the birth of its leader Kim Il-sung! As a result, the year in North Korea is 106. Its adoption of the Juche era calendar means that years before 1912 (the year of Kim il-Sungs birth) are used with the Gregorian calendar dates while years past that date have the North Korean Juche Calendar accompaniment.
For example, 2017 would be Juche 106 (2017). The calendar is based on the birth of Kim Il-sung, and therefore everyone born on the date of his death (July 8) is not allowed to celebrate a birthday on that day. The same goes for December 17, the day Kim Jong-il died.
4. The World Food Programme estimates that 6 million of North Korea's 25 million people are in need of food aid and one-third of children are chronically malnourished or stunted. Analysis of escapees from North Korea shows that those born after the Korean War in the late 1950s were on average about 2 inches shorter than South Koreans. Most North Koreans subsist on corn and kimchi, a pickled cabbage.
3. Kim Jong Il's annual cognac expense was about 500 times the average North Korean's annual income. Kim Jong Il, the father of Kim Jong Un, reportedly spent 700,000 on Hennessy each year. That's about $913,000 at today's exchange rate; Kim Jong Il died in 2011. The average annual income in North Korea according to a 2013 estimate, is thought be $1,000 to $2,000.
2. North Korea enlists around 2000 attractive women as part of a Pleasure Squad who provide entertainment and sexual services for top officials.
The existence of Kim Jong-ils harems has been known to the South Korean intelligence community. According to the account of a Pleasure Squad defector Mi Hyang, groups of young, attractive women were enlisted regularly to provide entertainment and sexual services to top-level government officials.
1. North Korea has discovered unicorns. In 2012, North Korean scientists revealed to the world that unicorns are in fact real. The Korean Central News Agency, the governments propaganda mouthpiece, said scientists reconfirmed the location of the burial site of the unicorn ridden by King Dongmyeong, the founding father of the ancient Korean kingdom of Goguryeo (37 BC-668 AD).
According to the broadcast, the unicorns grave was rediscovered near a temple in the capital Pyongyang, with a rectangular rock engraved with the words Unicorn Lair at its entrance. Further evidence for the unicorns discovery were not revealed. We cant possibly imagine what the reason for that could be.
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