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20 Fascinating Facts About North Korea

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Everyone has heard a thing or two about North Korea. This small country located in Asia is known for many controversies that often make headlines. People of North Korea have a unique lifestyle and specific perception of the world. Now, the world is becoming increasingly interested in North Korea and it’s a way of life, although the world still knows little about this unusual country.

Even those who have been to North Korea might give contradictory stories. He have collected the most fascinating and virtually known and unknown facts about North Korea, which might help us understand this country better. Read on to see how this country is different from yours.

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20. North Koreans Have No Idea That South Korea Exists

You might know that there is South Korea and North Korea, but North Koreans are convinced that Korea is a single country. If you look at the world’s political map made in another country, you will see both North and South Korea on it.

However, if you look at the maps made in North Korea, you will see one Korea, with Pyongyang’s capital. Both North and South Korea are probably dreaming about unification, but for now, they have their reason to maintain the status quo.

19. They Call Americans “Big Noses”

North Koreans strongly believe that every American has big noses, hairy chests, and huge eyes. If you get the chance to visit the Pyongyang War Museum, you may see many portraits of how Americans are presented.

Rumors have it that children use cardboard mannequins made to look like people in military uniforms and that they are taught how to kill those mannequins with giant noses and wide-open blue eyes. Again, this is just a rumor, as far as the world knows.

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18. North Korea Is Not Communist

Its commonly believed that North Korea follows the doctrine of Marxism-Leninism. However, the truth is that North Korea gave up the communist ideology in the ’50s by officially cutting ties with the USSR.

At that moment, the Juche idea blossomed. Historians claim that this idea arose as early as 1926 as a continuation of Marx’s and Lenin’s teachings. Over time, all mention of communism started disappearing.

17. North Korea Has No Taxes

Yes, you read it right – there is no tax in North Korea! In fact, North Korea is one of the few countries in the world whose residents do not pay any taxes.

Taxation was declared as part of the ‘old world’ in 1974. Only organizations and individuals who are making money outside North Korea have to pay tax. However, the latest rumors say that the government is planning to reintroduce income tax in the near future.

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16. North Koreans Watch American Films Without Realizing It

American movies are actually pretty popular in North Korea. They may not know about Hollywood, but they love American cinematography. That’s why Titanic and Die Hard are so popular.

Still, the audience doesn’t know where movies were filmed. On the other hand, it can be dangerous to watch Sout Korean TV, because they cannot plead ignorance of where a film or show come from in this case.

15. Kimilsungia And Kimjongilia

Kimilsungia and Kimjongilia are very popular in North Korea. Kimilsungia is a hybrid orchid, and Kimjongilia is a hybrid begonia, and they aren’t official flowers of the country, nor the people are forced to love these plants.

Still, there is an annual exhibition of Kimilsungias and Kimjongilias for which every participating family tries to grow the best flower. So, they love having them in their surrounding.

14. North Korea Is One Of The World’s Leading Exporters Of Seafood

Don’t be fooled, believing that North Korea doesn’t do business with neighboring countries and the rest of the world. That’s why North Korea is one of the largest leaders when it comes to exporting seafood.

North Korea’s main trading partner is its neighbor China, mostly fish and other seafood. Globally, North Korea is among the top 20 countries exporting fishery products. Interestingly, North Korea also experts monuments.

13. North Korea Is Run By A Dead Man

North Korea is unique in many things, but what makes this country really special is necrocracy. The reason is that Kim Il-sung was posthumously declared the Eternal Leader of the DPRK.

In reality, this means that the leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-un, bears the titles of the Supreme Leader of the DPRK, Supreme Commander of the Army, and Chairman of the Workers’ Party, but doesn’t have a presidential status. Does he really need it after so many titles?

12. The Arirang Show

The Arirang Festival is the largest mass performance, so popular in North Korea that they spend months preparing to participate and enjoy it. This festival is so massive that it’s included in the Guinness World Records Book. This show features 0.4% of the country’s population.

To put this in numbers, it means that 100,000 people take part every year of a total population of 25 million. The Arirang Festival is held in the Rungrado 1st of May Stadium – the largest stadium in the world with a total capacity of 114,000.

11. A Propaganda Village

Kijong-dong, or the “Peace Village” is located at the border with South Korea and serves to show the southern neighbors all the privilege of living in the North. This small village was created in the 1950s when electricity was a true luxury in rural areas both in South and North Korea.

The electricity here was so organized, that the lights appeared in the same buildings strictly according to the schedule. Plus, soldiers were patrolling, and the same women washed the same windows for 15 years. When technology developed more, southerners could see the village better, and it became clear that the houses in Kijong-dong are only empty boxes with no floors, ceilings, or inner walls.

10. Who’s Louder?

A view of Kijong-dong and its 160-meter-high flagpole – the tallest in the world until 2010, and there is an interesting story about this monument. For many years, it hosted a loudspeaker that described the delights of living in North Korea for those who would defect from the South.

In 2004, North Koreans started broadcasting military marches for 20 hours a day and at full volume. The southerners responded with their famous K-Rock. At one moment, the noise was too much, so both sides agreed to go silent.

9. Kim Jong-un Is One Of A Kind

There can be only one Kim Jong-un. It is officially forbidden to give children the name Kim Jong-un. If a child had been named like this before the law kicked doff, parents are and the child is obliged to change it.

In 2011, Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong-il, issued an equivalent decree about his own name. The first decision of this kind came with Kim’s grandfather. Family tradition should be continued, no matter what it seems.

8. North Korea Has Mandatory Military Service

Those born in North Korea know that they will serve military service, both men and women. This isn’t so strange, because many countries have obligatory military service. The only difference here s that military service lasts for a decade. Yes, males over the age of 18 must serve a 10-year term in the army, as of 2003 when it was mandatory to serve it for 13 years.

After graduation from high school, women must serve in the military until the age of 23. In total, this small country has active military personnel of about 1 million people (4th in the world), with almost 6 million paramilitary personnel.

7. Popular Korean Posters

Art is a very serious business in North Korea. We all know that propaganda is taken very seriously in North Korea and as such, you can see it everywhere. Therefore, many posters are seen across the country, calling to serve their homeland. You can even buy them if you want to.

From an artistic point of view, these posters are very appealing, messages are direct and action-oriented. All in, they put a lot of effort into these materials.

6. North Koreans Are Shorter Compared to South Koreans

For still unknown reasons, North Koreans born after the Korean War are about 2 inches shorter than South Koreans on average. Scientists came to this conclusion by analyzing those who escaped from North Korea to South Korea.

USA Today reported in 2013 that those born after the Korean War were simply shorter. This phenomenon is yet to be explained, but until then you can choose to, or not, believe these claims.

5. Pyongyang Time

North Korea wants to be so unique, that they created its own time zone: Pyongyang Time. Yes, they have created their own time zone, called Pyongyang Time, named after the North Korean capital.

Pyongyang Time is 30 minutes behind South Korea and Japan. As of 2015, the country uses Pyongyang Time and this time was the time zone used before Japanese rule.

4. There Can Be Only One Hair Style

Kim Jong Un takes his hair style seriously. He likes it so much, that he has ordered all male citizens to copy his haircut. They went so far, that there is an official rule.

There is an official statement stating requiring men to keep their hair no longer than 2 centimeters and requiring women to keep their hair at a bob length. Basically, men must copy Kim’s haircut, while women were advised to copy his wife.

3. If You Pay, You Can Defect From North Korea

In past years, it has been more difficult and more expensive to leave North Korea. Ever since Kim Jong-un took power it has gotten more expensive to leave this country.

To get to China from North Korea you should pay up to $8,000 and that’s much more than the average North Korean can afford. Did you know that the gross domestic product per capita was $1,800 in 2014?

2. North Korea Is About The Size Of Pennsylvania

It’s always good to compare countries to see where you stand. So, for example, if we would compare North Korea and Pennsylvania you would see that North Korea is about the size of Pennsylvania.

Pennsylvania is 46,054 square miles, or 119,279 square kilometers, while North Korea is 120,538 square kilometers. Less than 20% of North Korea’s land is arable, which is about the size of New Hampshire’s land area.

1. North Korea Says Has A 100% Literacy Rate

According to North Koria documents, they have a 100% literacy rate. The CIA World Factbook defines literate people as those ages 15 and over who can read and write.

If this is true it means that they have a well-organized and implemented education system that actually works. This isn’t something that many countries can brag about.

This article originally appeared on our sister site, HistorySQ.

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