We are living in the Era of the internet where the whole world is well connected, and within minutes someone from Anchorage, Alaska would get notified of some incident in Auckland, New Zealand. However, that’s not the case for one tiny nation called North Korea aka DPRK.
North Korea functions differently in many ways which make this country as unique as it gets!
In this post, we talk about the top 10 shocking facts about North Korea which aren’t necessarily negative!
1- North Koreans call Americans “The big noses”
There’s a cliche among North Koreans that all Americans have very big noses, blue eyes, and hairy chests. And that’s how they draw American soldiers in the street arts throughout North Korea!
People in touristic areas of Pyongyang are quite used to the foreigners, but if you’re not of Asian descendant, it’s very common for people to stare at you, because in most cases you’re the first (and possibly the last) non-Asian they’ve ever seen in their life.
2- North Korea is a Tax-Haven
North Korean citizens do not pay income-tax like most other people in the world unless they work outside North Korea (there is North Korean workforce in some countries such as Russia, China, and Kuwait).
Officially, there are no domestic taxes in North Korea. The date of 1 April is the North Korean “Tax Abolition Day”. North Korean propaganda claims that North Korea is the world’s only tax-free country. The North Korean state, however, still collects revenue from its citizens in the form of hidden taxation through various sales taxes.
3- North Koreans love Hollywood movies
North Korean black markets are full of Hollywood movies that everyone loves. They just don’t realize where these movies were shot. Plus, the risk of watching Hollywood movies is much lower than South Korean dramas. Because in K-Dramas they speak Korean that makes North Korean people questioning why they don’t have such amenities like the people on TV.
The former leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il, had an obsession with Hollywood movies since he was a young man and his all time favorite movies were Friday the 13th, Godzilla and Rambo. Apparently he had an impressive collection of Hollywood movies and porn which were believed to be sent to Pyongyang in diplomatic pouches from North Korean missions in New York and Beijing and which he kept in an air-conditioned vault!
According to a recent report by the Washington-based research group InterMedia, “media devices such as televisions and DVD players have reached near ubiquity in North Korea, with access and ownership a common phenomenon across nearly all demographic, socio-economic and political class divides.” In Intermedia’s survey of a group of 350 North Korean defectors, refugees and travelers, 92 percent said they watched foreign content on a DVD player.
4- North Korea’s leader is a dead man
North Korea is the only country in the world where the official leader is a dead man. According to a North Korean law (necrocracy), Kim Il-sung was posthumously declared the Eternal Leader of the DPRK.
Even though Kim Jong-un holds the titles of the Supreme Leader of the DPRK, Supreme Commander of the Army, and Chairman of the Workers’ Party, he doesn’t have a Presidential status.
5- A propaganda village at the border with South Korea
In the 1950s, both South and North Korea tried to showcase how good the quality of life is on their side and started building villages that could be seen from the other side of the border. (The Panmunjom flagpole, flying the flag of North Korea. Also known in North Korea as Peace Village (평화촌; 平和村; p’yŏnghwach’on), it has been widely referred to as ‘Propaganda Village’ (선전마을; 宣傳마을; seonjeon maeul) by those outside North Korea, especially in South Korean and Western media)
At that time, Electricity was considered a luxury in the region since both sides of the border were undeveloped, so North Korea lightened up the whole village with electricity to show off its citizens’ quality of life. However, after a few years South Korea became a developed country and people could use their cameras and binoculars to zoom in to see more details. It turned out that those buildings were completely empty boxes with no residents and even no floors! Plus the same women cleaned the same windows for 15 continuous years!
6- North Korea’s mandatory military service for women and men
Some countries still have mandatory military services for their citizens, but none are as lengthy as in North Korea.
North Korea is the country with the longest compulsory military service, 11 years for men and seven years for women.
This mandatory service has made the North Korean army the 4th-largest military in the world with more than 1 million active forces and more than 6 million paramilitary personnel!
7- North Korea has once provided aid to the South
On September 30th, 1984, after a series of flood ruined the residential areas close to the border in South Korea, their government tried to show they got everything was under control, but after receiving an aid offer from North Korea, they immediately replied “Yes!” and received 100,000 tons of cement, 7,200 tons of rice, 550,000 yards of cloth and 759 cases of medicine. But it never helped the situation between the countries to get better!
8- Kim Il-sung bought 1,000 Volvo cars from Sweden but never paid for them
In the 70s the late leader, Kim Il-sung purchased 1000 Volvo from Sweden, worth at about 2.8 million dollars today which never got paid. Sweden’s government still sends an invoice each year to North Korea!
9- Pyongyang is only reserved for elite
Pyongyang, the country’s modern city in DPRK, is only reserved for those citizens who are considered loyal, according to the government’s standard and in fact, it’s the government who decides if someone is worthy enough to live in the capital or not!
Throughout the years, Pyongyang was developed so much that it’s currently one of the most modern looking cities in the world.
10- North Korea kidnapped a South Korean director and his ex-wife
In 1978, Shin Sang-ok, a successful South Korean director was kidnapped, shortly after his ex-wife, Choi Eun-hee, a famous South Korean actress was kidnapped in Hong Kong! They remarried in North Korea by Kim Jong-il’s order to make the North Korean film industry known internationally! They could manage to escape to the US after a few years of producing movies in North Korea such as Salt (an award-winning film), or Pulgasari (the North Korean version of Godzilla).