Inside North Korea: The Pictures They Don’t Want You to See

“Preparation for War With USA is Complete” ~ North Korea Confirms

North Korea, the mystical hermit kingdom shrouded in rumors and tales, isolates itself from the rest of world since Korean War in 1950. Part of the Korean peninsula, the Korean Kingdom was historically a suzerainty (a state that is subservient to another state) of China Qing dynasty. It is wedged in between the power of China and Japan and has been the heart of conflict for hundreds of years. Since 1950, Korea has officially split into North and South Korea as part of power struggle between the US/West and Soviet/Sino power blocks.

With support of the communist east, Korea has been ruled by the Kim Il-Sung and his descendants and exercises isolationist policy towards the world. As a result very little information has been able to leave North Korea. We have assembled the few known picture of North Korea and we hope the shine some lights on the life and people this unknown realm.

Pyongyang is very overcrowded

The capital of North Korea, PyongYang is the home of more than 3 million people. This huge population makes this city the fourth most populated city in the world and is comparable to Houston, Texas of America. Almost 59% of the total population works in this city of high rise buildings.

The common problems faced by the people here include frequent power cuts which lead to shutdown of elevators and people have to go through climbing 40 stories every day.

Careful who you call

North Korean authorities are working day and night to prevent its citizens from getting influenced by the world beyond its border. For this they have adopted isolationist policies towards its citizens. Due to these policies no one is allowed to call internationally and if you are caught making an international call, it will lead you to execution.

In 2003 a North Korean was executed just for the case that he was contacting his friend in South Korea through a phone call. North Korean government strictly regulates the means of communication especially towards its enemy states.

Empty roads

North Korea has empty roads and highways. The reason pointed out to be is the lack of resources. Most North Koreans are so poor that they cannot own a car. In addition to this if someone has enough resources to buy a car, he has to take permission to drive through various parts of the country.

The petrol prices are sky high which makes this process even more difficult. Therefore, cycling is becoming more common every day.

Human waste is big news

After North and South Korea divide, the South cancels the trade with North leaving North the shortage of many crucial things. One of the products include fertilizer which South stopped in 2008. As a result, it becomes difficult for North Korea to grow food for such a large population.

The solution North Koreans find is to use human waste as a substitute for fertilizers. Therefore, they have to produce a minimum of 2 tons to fulfil the need.

Executions are common

Executions of criminals are routine matters for North Koreans. The country comes first in public and private executions in the world apart from China and Iran. The purpose behind these executions is to deter citizens from committing any crime. Execution in public spaces with a wailing audience is part of routine for North Koreans.

These executions are taken out by hanging or by the use of gunfire. Recently the defense chief of North Korea was executed with an anti-aircraft gun for showing disrespect.

The Internet is for the few

While the rest of us in the free world get to experience the delight that is the World Wide Web, North Koreans don’t have the same rights. Access to the Internet in North Korea is severely limited, so much so that only government officials and college students are allowed to use it.

And even those who are allowed access to the Web are allowed to access to only a few, limited sites that are closely monitored. The authorities clearly don’t want their citizens getting any ideas.

Poverty is rife

Despite the fact that North Korea spends a large amount of money on its defense sector the country stands in the list of poor countries. In fact, the citizens of North Korea are even deprived from basic necessities like food and health care etc.

It is estimated that nearly 40 percent of the total population almost 24 million people are living below the poverty line. The average of a North Korean ranges from 2$ to 3$ per month.

Its ICBM probably can’t reach the States

North Korea has tested the Hwasong-15, which it terms its most powerful intercontinental ballistic missile ever. The country claimed that the missile could hit the “entire region of the U.S. mainland” and could hold a “super-large heavy warhead.” The warhead was described as technically and tactically superior to its predecessors.

International observers questioned how heavy its payload was, and if it was capable of carrying a nuclear warhead far enough to hit the United States. Its previous furthest-reaching missile could potentially reach around the globe.

Their military is their strength

Military might is the foremost priority of North Korea. More than one million people are active duty personnel of the military and nearly 8 million citizens are part of North Korea reserves forces. This huge number of active soldiers make North Korea one of the largest militaries of the world. North Korea considers military power as supreme force for achieving national interests.

Soccer team and propaganda

North Korea is very limited in terms of recreational activities. Only few of the recreational opportunities are made available to its citizens. But North Korea does have a soccer team which participated in the 2010 FIFA world cup.

The irony is the team lost its first match and were disqualified from the world cup. Instead of following the defeat the North Korean government started propaganda, showing the football team to participate in a fake tournament and reaching the final against Brazil. All of this was done to satisfy the public.

They use a different calendar

North Korea follows its own time and date. They use a calendar which begins when its former leader was born April 15,1912. According to the calendar, this is 106th  year. The Juche calendar officially came into use in 1997 and was referred to the birth anniversary of Kim II Sung as the day of the sun.

An unlikely friendship

Kim Jong Un enjoys having many friends outside North Korea and one of them includes former NBA star Dennis Rodman. Dennis has openly described his relation with the North Korea leader. He claims that he has paid several trips to the leader and even wished him happy birthday to Kim on his recent trip to North Korea. Although Dennis Rodman was subjected to criticism on his alleged relations with the notorious leader.

Not many traffic lights

North Korea does not have traffic lights for regulating traffic. There might be few on some roads but very rare. The government has posted men to regulate the traffic instead of traffic light. The reason points out to be better regulation of traffic and better chance of catching violators of traffic. Because in North Korea if you break a signal it will lead you to jail.

World’s largest stadium

Although North Korea is not famous for its friendliness or hospitality or any other similar thing, it does have the world’s largest stadium which can accommodate 150,000 people at a time. The Rungrado 1st May stadium is located in a place where most people are living below the poverty line. The stadium hosts the annual games of North Korea where a large number of people perform gymnastics and fine arts in the form of groups and regiments.

Your family suffers for your crimes

The country has a “three generation rule” for punishment which means that if a person commits a crime, the brutal law will not only punish the guy but his upcoming generations will also be punished. And making things worse if an offspring will be born during the punishment he has to remain in prison for the rest of his life, following the punishment of his father

Torture is normal in prison

North Korea has several prison camps which are famous for horrifying living conditions, starvation and torture. When a criminal is sent to these prison camps he is subjected to extreme torture and cruel punishments which often lead them to death. It is estimated that more than 40000 people have lost their lives in these camps due to these cruel punishments and starvation.

Pyongyang knows how to have fun

In a country where citizens are bound to so many restrictions and punishments for violations are cruel it is quite unusual that citizens living here and enjoy quality time. Yes it is true that PyongYang the capital of North Korea does allow its citizens to enjoy and for this it has three joy parks where rides are available . Although many of the rides are outdated but North Koreans can have themselves in these parks. Munsu water park is reserved for the wealthiest of the city.

The capital city is reserved for the rich

Pyongyang, the country’s capital city is designated to only the “wealthiest” families in the country as it is the most expensive city in all of North Korea to live in. In a sense it is a “gated” city because it is patrolled 24/7 to prevent poor people from entering the capital city.

TV is limited

As discussed above North Korean authorities have adopted extreme isolationist policies which results in strict regulation of means of communication like the internet and landline. Television also comes under the radar of these policies. North Korea has only one T.V channel available for its citizens on working days and while the strength increases to two channels on weekends for amusement. Both of these channels are controlled by the state.

Education is expensive

In the case of the education system of North Korea the information available from the sources are contradicting. From one source, in North Korea the education is quite expensive. It forces parents to pay for their child education fee along with Children’s desk, chair and share of utility bills. But from other sources, the education is completely free of charge for elementary, middle and high school.

North Korea has its own Godzilla

Just like the Hollywood movie character Godzilla, North Korea has made its own character similar to Godzilla named as “Pulgasari” which they use to create propaganda films. In 1978 Director Shin Sang-ok, a filmmaker, was kidnapped by North Korean Intelligence agency on the order of leader Kim Jong II. Shin was forced to make propaganda films for the North Korean government. Pulgasari was also his creation. Luckily he escaped to the United States with his wife.

‘Dear Leader’s’ father liked the liquor

Korea is a poor country but is governed by a lavish ruler. In the past Kim Jong-il, who is the father of Kim Jong-Un, loved to drink expensive liquor. He is reported to have spent $1.2 million on Hennessy liquor alone. In a poor country where the resources are limited such a burden proved disastrous for the economy. In the case of Kimg Jong-un the situation is even more fatal as it is reported that the supreme leader has spent more than $30million per year on imported liquor.

North Koreans are shorter than their Southern brothers

It is believed that the North Koreans are shorter in height as their counterparts living in the Southern Part of Korea. The average difference turns out to be more than 3 inches. North Koreans are shorter by almost 1.2 to 3.1 inches than South Koreans. This is due to the extreme conditions North Koreans are living in. The lack of food and malnutrition is the root cause of this.

Few roads are paved

In North Korea the roads are also not in good condition. They need pavement. Like traffic lights only critical roads are made of pavement while the rest of the roads are in poor condition. In fact, only 2.8 percent of roads are well-off leaving the country with only 724 kilometers of quality road network out of 25,554 kilometers. With such poor conditions the logistics and supply chain sector is facing severe difficulties. Drivers have to deal with severe potholes while driving.

Perfect literacy rate

Of all the negativity above North Korea, the country still owes something to boast about. According to reports North Korea comes on top of the list having the most literate population. 100 percent of the people above 15years can read and write both. This put this country in comparison to Scandinavian nations and many more.

Riddled with corruption

Corruption is another evil in North Korea and it keeps growing everyday making the lives of North Koreans more miserable. In 2003 North Korea ranked lowest in the list of most transparent nations of the world. North Korea stands on 175 position out of 177 countries in the list formulated by Transparency International a global watchdog. The general viewpoint is lack of resources and to avoid harsh rules North Koreans indulge in corruption. Many executions have been done so far like the execution of Jang Sung-Thaek in 2013 for bribery and selling land and resources for personal use.

Indoor plumbing is rare

Unlike any other countries where sanitation is priority, North Korea lags behind in this sphere too. Lack of resources have caused North Koreans to use common bathrooms for meager ablution purposes as they cannot afford indoor plumbing. Making things worse these basic facilities are also not looked after carefully leaving enough spaces for the spread of epidemic diseases. This has cost many lives in North Korea.

Your haircut has to be approved by the government

The so called Communist state which takes responsibility to control every aspect of common life has even legislated the code of haircut for its citizens. North Korea has allowed a very limited number of haircut styles for its citizens. For example, men are allowed to have hair of only 2 inches following the style which is allowed. In the case of women, the situation is quite different but not to a great extent. Women are allowed to choose 14 different styles. In addition to this married women must keep their hair short following the styles while single women can have long hairs.

A whole village dedicated to propaganda

North Korea is having an authoritarian regime and usually authoritarian regimes have to set up propaganda tools to create illusions for the outside world and for its citizens to keep their regime stable. So for this North Korea has built a whole village named Kijong-dong “peace village” just to show the world that everything is going fine here. The truth is the citizens are even deprived of food and electricity etc. The city includes large high-rise buildings to show the wealth of North Korea. Although they are empty and their windows are without glasses.

The immortal president

The North Korea constitution has enabled their former leaders, who are dead to even rule after their life. According to the constitution Kimill Sung and Kim Jong II are considered to be the eternal leaders of the whole Juche Korea, the leaders of Workers Party, Democratic Republic of Korea and Korean people. So even if they are dead, they are still considered to be the supreme leaders and people have to consider them as their leader and Kim Jong Un will also become part of the “Eternal Presidents” list.

Jeans are banned

As from the above discussion, it is evident that North Koreans are not allowed to contact beyond the borders and anything which shows a link to another world is also prohibited. However, these new trends are being followed by the people leaving close to the China border. As a result, Kim has banned all the new trends especially jeans and skirts and made them illegal.

Kim controls the weather

As like many other outrageous claims which state media often make one include the notion of controlling weather. One day the state media announced that Kim can predict the weather accurately because of the supernatural abilities he has. In addition to this he can also control the weather and change it to the pattern he wants. Another of such claims include that Kim and his team of scientists have made a special injection including secret and rare Earth materials and announced that it can cure Ebola, cancer, the common cold, heart diseases and every other disease.

You might not be allowed to celebrate your birthday

North Korea is famous for its celebrations regarding the birthday of the leader. But this is not the case with every other citizen. The citizens are not allowed to celebrate their birthday if their date of birth comes on the day when one of the Leaders have died. Like 8 July and December 17 are days designated for mourning and remembrance of North Korea’s past leaders. So if you are born on these days you would be crying instead of enjoying.

The military’s not just for men

Military is the beacon of North Korea’s might. North Korea has one of the largest military in the world. In 2016 the total strength of paramilitary personnel included 5,900,00 soldiers.

This strength not only includes men but women also has to serve in order to protect their country. Women have to enlist at the age of 18 and can leave the military at the age of 23 years with compulsory service of five years.

‘Dear Leader’ determined to hang on to power

Kim Jong -Un has remained in power for so many years. And he will go to any extent in order to maintain its position. Any effort to derail the Kim’s government will be dealt with strict measures. For example, in 2013 Kim executed his uncle by throwing him in front of 120 ravenous dogs because he was found clapping half-halfheartedly for the supreme leader.

Threats by fax

After the divide, the relation between North and South remains tense to this day. Threats are being made every day from North to South. But due to lack of technology and meager resources North is using old technologies like fax machines etc. So South has been receiving threats in the form of fax for the past several years. This shows how much technologically backward North Korea is.

Where freedom of religion isn’t really free

Although the North Korea constitution clearly dictates that citizens are allowed to follow their respective beliefs and state will not interfere with it. But in practice the situation is quite the opposite. More than 80 Christians were executed publicly for having Bibles and more than 200,000 Christians have been missing since 1953. North Korea is a secular state but in practice any other unauthorized belief will be suppressed by state.

Listening to music could get you executed

Music which is considered to be a source of fulfillment and connection., in North Korea it is used to glorify the state’s regime. Every song has a nationalist element representing Kim’s government in it. All western and other music is prohibited and when found listening to it the subject will be executed.

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