North Korea is one of the most inaccessible countries in the world. Mostly because there are not so many daredevils who want to get there. Still, this is one of the countries the whole world is always talking about. Mostly because of it's strange rules and hard living conditions. In Part 1 we talked about some funny, crazy, and a bit amusing facts on North Korea. But now we're going to talk about something more serious…
The Most Shocking Facts About North Korea. Part 2
The North Korean Students Have To Pay For the School Equipment
The schools in North Korea are quite a challenge. The students have to pay basically for everything: desks, chairs, heating etc. Considering the fact, that on average North Koreans have two and more children in the family, sometimes schools are the financial disaster for them. So the children, who don't have enough money, must work hard producing goods for the government. Often parents don't send their children to school, although it is the violation of official policy. That is why many of them bribe the teachers to keep quiet so that their children can avoid hard work.
Still, North Korean authorities claim, that the literacy rate of the country is 99-100%. It ranks equally with the U.S. and U.K. index and champions a lot of countries in the world. But they say that children in North Korea learn how to write the names of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il even before they know how to write their own names or the names of their parents. As soon as it is done, the children are declared literate in writing"...
The Usage Of Human Resources In North Korea
Now we will talk about life in North Korea. It is separated from the rest of the world and doesn't use any external help even if famine or another disaster. They have a lack of resources, in particular, chemical fertilizers, so the government decided to use country's human resources. The citizens were forced to produce hundreds of kilograms of feces which were used as a fertilizer mixed with straw. And you know what, I think North Korea is the only country in the world, where people started to steal squat toilets and the others had to install locks on their lavatories to prevent from stealing"... well, you know"...
Yes, it might look funny at first. But just think of this: if you don't produce the required amount, you will get punished and most likely sent to the labor camp.
About 200K people are prisoners in 16 North Koreans work camps. And this number continues to grow. All political criminals (especially those trying to escape North Korea) are sent to Kaechon internment camp with the whole family. And more"... The next two generations of a sentenced person are born in the camp and have to live their entire lives here. About 40% of prisoners die because of hunger.
There are more than 50 Social Categories in North Korea, ranking people by the loyalty to the regime. They are grouped in three casts: the core, wavering, and hostile classes. And these ranks influence the life of citizens a lot, especially when something bad like famine happens. Most of the people wear the Worker's Party badges to show their trustworthiness. These badges are valuable with thieves because on the black market they can be exchanged for hundreds of North Koreans wons.
And what these people get instead? At least the half of the population of the country don't have access to basic human needs. The government pays for the healthcare, but there is a huge shortage of medicine and equipment. And even if some hospitals are lucky to get the cutting-edge equipment, it remains unused, because nobody knows how to use it. There is one doctor for every 700 people and one hospital for every 350 citizens.
North Korea is the second country to last on the World Press Freedom Index. In big cities, women are not allowed to ride a bike or wear pants – only the skirts that cover the knees. In 2009 North Korean government destroyed the savings of a major part of its population. To control the private markets, they revalued the national currency and replaced 1000 won bills with 10 won bills, limiting the amount of old currency in use. Human rights violation is everywhere here"...
Only Elite Can Live In North Korean Capital
And now let's talk about Pyongyang. It is the only North Korea's city with the population over 3 million people. But only elite – trustworthy, healthy, loyal people – can live here. So you can't just move to the capital, you have to earn such a privilege.
All tourists also stay in Pyongyang. There is a special place for them called the Ryugyong Hotel with 105 floors and 3K rooms. For 20 years this pyramid was the world's largest building in the world. Now it is on the 24th place in the list. But the sad thing is – such a large building is almost always empty.
If you ever come to Pyongyang you should visit the Tower of the Juche Idea. It was built in honor of Kim Il-sung's 70th birthday. The building was designed by Kim Jong-il (no proofs of that) and is 170 meters tall. The tower is made of more than 25,5K pieces of stone – one for each day of eternal president's life.
One more interesting thing. North Korea is the only country in the world, who has a captured US Navy ship. It became a great tourist attraction in Pyongyang. Now it's a museum dedicated to the ceasefire of the Korean war which actually still goes on. The South and North Korea never signed the peace treaty.
North Korean Leaders Are Considered To Be Gods
According to the government statements, the leaders of North Korea are almost gods. People here actually believe that the government can read the citizen's minds. Some of them think that the Kim's' family has nothing to do with humans, but are the perfect beings – real gods. The children learn some fantastic things about the country leaders so that they will fear the regime and never go against it. The cult of Kim's' family is even bigger than Stalin's or Mao Zedong's. It looks a bit hypertrophied but it's a good propaganda method for people who are afraid to think. Just look at these facts.
There are about 34K Kim Sung-il's statues in the country – one for every 3,5 km or for every 750 people. North Koreans have to wear the badges with his face to show their respect for the Eternal President. By the way, he is still considered to be the actual president of North Korea, even though he is dead for 23 years now. He was born in a quite religious Protestant family and named Kim Song-j. But later he changed his name to Kim Sung-il which means "become the sun" – quite ambitious. Although his son was even more fantastic.
People say that Kim Jong-il was born on Mount Paektu like a mythical god under a double rainbow and while he was coming to this world, a new star appeared in the sky (but the Russian records say he was born in Siberia and, of course, none of those things actually happened). His official biography tells that he learned to walk and talk at the age of 6 months. And that's not all – he could control the weather with his mood! The local media reported that Kim Jong Il scored a 300 when playing bowling for the first time and sank 11 holes-in-one while playing golf for the first time"... When Kim Jong-il died, thousands of North Koreans were sentenced to six months in work camps just because they were not sufficiently upset. Once, when a single anti-Kim Jong-Il graffiti was found in the capital, Pyongyang was locked down for three days.
By the way, in North Korea, people can't celebrate birthdays on July 8 and December 17 for these are the days when Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il died. That means about 100K people have to move the celebration to another date.
And you know what"... The Kims even have their own flowers. For example, Kim Il-sung had an orchid called kimilsungia created in his honor in Indonesia. And in Japan, they've created a red begonia especially for Kim Jong-il. It was called kimjonilia.
The North Korean leaders also took care of their leisure. There is such thing as Pleasure Squad here – 2000 attractive young women, who provide entertainment and sexual services for top-level officials.
And what about Kim Jong-Un? According to the official statements, he started to drive at the age of 3. But who knows, what will his biographers think out in the next few years?! Turns out, Kim Jong-un for a few years lived and studied in Switzerland. He attended an expensive school near Berne. His classmates recalled that he wasn't very good at studying but was more interested in football and computer games. Well, you can do that if there's a whole country waiting for you back home… He also showed some results in basketball as he was a big fan of Michael Jordan. So I won't be surprised to hear about his basketball enormous achievements in the future.
Balloons Deliver Banned Things To North Korea
The International organizations and communities who try to fight the North Korean regime, often have to use their imagination to outflank the system. The most common cases involve balloons"....
For example, someone used balloons to send few thousands of copies of the "Interview" movie into North Korea. If you don't know, it's Seth Rogen's and Evan Goldberg's political satire comedy film, making fun of North Korea and its leader Kim Jong-un.
And in 2014, when Kim Jong-un banned Choco Pies, South Koreans sent 50 balloons, carrying these snacks. And you know why Choco Pies were banned here? Apparently, Kim Jong-un was afraid that they were too popular with people and could encourage the uprising"...
There's also an organization that parachutes Bibles on the territory of North Korea. Despite being illegal, there are about 100K Christians there. But possessing of Bible is a big crime in North Korea. So if you're caught, you're gonna be executed.
In 2013 80 people were executed in public for owning Bibles and watching South Korean movies. Children and women were forced to watch the execution to prevent them from doing the same.
Electricity In North Korea
The electricity is a privilege in North Korea. The power is usually shot down at night and some families receive electricity only for a few hours per day. If to look from space, at night North Korea looks like a black spot among the neighbors – China and South Korea.
The problems started when USSR fell apart and stopped the export of electricity to this country. So now each person here consumes on average only 739-kilowatt hours of power. For example, in South Korea, this number reaches more than 10 thousand kilowatt hours for each person. I guess, they just don't have any needed equipment, technologies and educated human resources to solve this problem. What do you expect from people, who use a fax machine to threaten South Korea…
Some Rules For Tourists In North Korea
A few tourists, who had an opportunity to see this bizarre country, told about their experience. There are some really strange rules for tourists. For example, you can't photograph the statue of Kim Jong-il if you can't capture the whole of it.
When you come to the country, most likely, during the flight you will watch a propaganda movie about the victory of North Korea's army against American troops.
The telephones of the tourists are scanned and registered so the government can keep an eye on you. Your passports are confiscated till you leave the country. That's a bad news for a tourist because if you do something wrong or the authorities will think so, you will stay here for a long long time"...
Tourists are under the total control of the government. There are even special guards who always accompany the guests and make sure the tourists do everything right.
By the way, I don't know why, but Malaysia and Singapore are the only countries allowed a visa-free travel to North Korea….
North Korean “Three Generations Of Punishment” Rule
If someone breaks the law here in North Korea, the punishment for the crime involves the whole family of the criminal. So if he or she is sentenced to work in prison camp, his or her grandparents, parents and children are forced to work with the violator. Well, everything is logical"... Grandparents and parents are punished for upbringing the criminal and the children have a good reason to behave. But seriously, that sounds really awful.
Who Wants To Live In North Korea
Some websites say that since 1990 almost 13K people have immigrated to North Korea (and only two of them were from the southern brother). That's a bit hard to believe. But there is one thing even stranger than that. After the Korean war in 1962 American soldier, Joseph Dresnok passed the North Korean mine-laden border and decided to stay there forever. He said that he felt there like home and "wouldn't trade it for nothing". While reading this I was thinking: what can make a person to give up freedom and look for such a life"... I mean, if the life there is really so good, 23K people wouldn't escape from this country in the last 60 years. And 10 million people would have an opportunity to see their relatives, who live in South Korea.
Speaking about refugees, North Koreans can make their way to the freedom only through Russia, China, South Korea (only for brave ones, because of the minefields and a whole lot of soldiers) and Japan. But China also isn't a very good country for the refugees. It is believed, that about 40-50K North Koreans are hiding here. 60-70% of them are women. And if the refugees are found, they are returned to their homeland and are punished for betrayal. But women more often stay in China and become victims of human trafficking. Apparently, Korean females are very popular here and range from $200 to $2000, but the attitude is awful. On the contrary in North Korea, the baby can be executed if its father is Chinese"...
North Korean Broadcasting
There are only three TV Channels in North Korea, but one of them is available only in the evening and the other two – during the weekends. There are no love stories on TV, but only propaganda about the authorities and the leaders family, except for some South Korean soap operas, that are really popular in the north.
The same thing is on the radio. There are only four radio stations in North Korea that are controlled by the government and have no advertisement. Because of the poverty and short TV broadcasting time, radio is the most common media. As I've heard, in the shops and public places people have to listen to the local radio stations the whole time. They can't turn it off, only lower the sound. But they say, there's also a black propaganda station, which is believed to be broadcasting from South Korea.
There is no Internet for North Koreans, except for an internal closed domestic network called the Kwangmyong. It features up to 5K government-approved websites and is available only for the privileged minority (more than 1 thousand people for 25 million population). North Korea even has its own operating system, called Red Star OS (oh, what a surprise). So all content, emails, messages, chats etc are monitored and pre-filtered by the authorities. This OS is based on Linux and includes the state-approved search engine. The access to the real Internet here is used only for the government purpose or by foreigners and is permitted with a special authorization.
Here you can be executed for watching a Hollywood or a South Korean movie. As also for trying to access the non-state radio or TV broadcast. This way it's easier to control the information and the people. North Koreans know about the world events only how they are described by the Propaganda and Agitation Department. I'm curious about the people who work with this information"... Do they know the truth? And if yes, how can they sleep at night?…