North Korea is a new state, having come into existence in 1948. The United States and the USSR replaced the Japanese in 1945, dividing the Korean Peninsula into the north (for USSR) and south (for US) as we have them today. Here we present to you ten weird facts about North Korea you never knew.
The country has a strict closed-country policy. For this reason, not much else is known about the country outside its borders except what its government wants the world to know.
Population: 24.9 million (2013) World Bank
Supreme leader: Kim Jong-un
Premier: Pak Pong-ju
Government: Juche one-party totalitarian state
Official Language: Korean
Currency: North Korean won
Weird Facts About North Korea
1. BEWARE TO CRITICIZE
It is highly offensive and illegal to criticize their government. The same goes for the customs and etiquettes, etc., of North Korea.
It would land you in trouble. And even if you don’t land in trouble, your escort or tour guide would.
2. USE RIGHT NAME
North Koreans prefer you refer to their country as DPRK: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. This, in fact is their official nomenclature. And it is still a belief there that the south is occupied territory.
3. PHOTOGRAPHING PARTLY ALLOWED
Foreigners taking pictures in the country is not entirely allowed. There are restrictions here and there. Always ask your tour guide before taking any pictures.
4. A MUST RITUAL
As a tourist, you will be required to bow and lay a flower in front of the statue of Kim Il Sung. If you wouldn’t do this, then don’t even dream of going.
5. ENGLISH SPEAKERS RARE
Those who speak in English in North Korea are almost literally one in a million. Chances are that the only person you would meet who speaks English is your tour guide.
6. TOUR GUIDES AT RISK
Take along nice things such as booze and nice cigarettes for male tour guides; and body cream for female tour guides. Such would make tour guides go out of their ways to be nice to you.
However, you must understand that any mistakes you make, even those your attention may not be called to, are blamed on your tour guide. So be considerate and don’t ask for too much.
7. THE LOYALTY BADGE
At every public occasion, everyone in attendance wears the badge of Kim Il Sung. The badge is worn on their chest as proof of loyalty.
8. FOOD SCARCITY
There is food, but it is not very available! For individual occasions, food supply is austere. Food is only abundant in state sponsored banquettes. It is only at such food and booze would flow free and last for as long as the occasion lasts.
9. COMPULSORY BIRTHDAY BASH
Life expectancy is 64 for men and 74 for women. But the 60th birthday is special to the North Koreans. It is the only birthday that is traditionally celebrated as a mark of longevity.
10. NO TROUSERS FOR WOMEN
Women are not allowed to put on trousers. However, they could put on trousers if…
- If they are factory workers
- If they are agricultural labourers