It Is the Year 104 In North Korea!

If you want to feel younger, North Korea facts suggest you should visit this Southeast Asian country, where you will find, when you arrive, it is no longer the year 2015. In 1997 the Juche Calendar came into effect and was based on Kim Il-Sung’s date of birth: April 12, 1912. This means it is now Juche 104. Korea has also recently created its own time zone, ‘Pyongyang Time,’ which puts the country 30 minutes behind Seoul and Tokyo.

Korea Is not Communist or a Dictatorship – It’s Juche

The system of government in North Korea, widely considered by the rest of the world to be an extreme dictatorship, is known as Juche within the country. This rejects ideas from elsewhere and focuses on using one’s own power and strength to form opinions. According to North Korea facts, the ideology of Juche is basically a rehash of previous communist ideas presented in a new form, similar to Albania before 1992. It is considered by many commentators to be a country run by a ‘Cult of Personality’ on a par with Stalinist Russia and Mao’s China.

North Korea’s Ruling Family Is Considered to be Semi-Divine

After the country was no longer under the leadership of the Soviet Union, Kim Il-Sung became the first dictator of North Korea, ruling from 1948 until his death. He continues to be considered a leader, even in death, as he received the title ‘Eternal President of the Republic’. The current calendar begins in the year of his birth -1912. His son, Kim Jong-il took over the leadership of the country in 1994, and then his grandson, Kim Jong-un in 2011. Elections are held every five years – but with only one candidate. There are huge statues of these leaders in public spaces in North Korea as the ruling family is considered semi-divine.

Tensions Run High Between North And South Korea

The ongoing threat of war between North and South Korea has abated for at least a while as the nations have established a tentative peace. North Korean terrorist kidnapping and assassination plots against targets in South Korea and Japan have been numerous and well-documented over the years. Recent attacks have included the sinking of a South Korean naval vessel with significant loss of life in 2010, periodic artillery shelling on the official border, The DMZ (De-Militarized Zone), and repeated threats to launch attacks on South Korea and the United States. This threat affects us all as North Korea facts reveal the country possibly possesses significant amounts of nuclear weapons, while there is a military alliance between South Korea and The United States. Presently there are around 29,000 U.S. troops stationed there.

There Is a Wide Gap Between Rich and Poor in North Korea

While government officials live the high life, this is not the case for most of the population of North Korea: more than half of the population are malnourished and live in extreme poverty. There was a huge famine in the 1990s which resulted in hundreds of thousands of deaths. This was accompanied by near economic collapse which hit the poorest hardest. Although the rift is said to be growing wider, North Korea has now opened itself up to some trade with other countries.

The Government Maintains Extreme Censorship

North Korea is a country with a serious lack of freedom of speech. There are just three TV channels; propaganda is announced in the mornings from loudspeakers; children learn all about the supreme leaders at school; and there is no internet. For visitors to North Korea, cellphones must be relinquished at the airport and are given back to you as you leave. In addition, you have to ask permission if you want to take pictures, and you will be escorted everywhere by a guide.

North Korea Is A Highly Militarized Society

North Korea facts reveal the country has an active army of over one million, the fourth largest in the world – which is quite something for the country’s size. It also possesses nuclear weapons. The Korean People’s Army is comprised of almost 40% of the population and is organized into five branches: Ground Force, Air Force, Navy, Strategic Rocket Force and Special Operation Force.

The Korean War Wiped Out 1 Million People

The Korean War from 1950-53 was the first part of the Cold War and was basically two great superpowers (the US and Soviet Union) fighting in another territory. North Korea, led by Kim Il-Sung, and backed by the Soviet Union and Communist China, invaded the South, forcing retaliation from the US and the United Nations. Unlike most of the Cold War, this was real combat resulting in the deaths of over one million people, Korean civilians and soldiers as well as foreign troops. The war also destroyed most notable buildings in North Korea. Since then there has been a heavily guarded zone, the DMZ, between North and South Korea, and tensions still run high.

North Korea Tested Nuclear Weapons

In 2013 North Korea antagonized the world by announcing that they had conducted nuclear weapons tests within the country. Google Maps increased their surveillance of the territory, and the United Nations Security Council held urgent meetings. Economic sanctions and embargos have been placed upon North Korea, and are dependent upon the country agreeing to United Nations inspections and halting their nuclear program.

North Korea Has 51 Social Categories

According to one of our most interesting North Korea facts, the population of the country is divided into a social hierarchy of 51 categories. This system is known as Songbun. The categories are determined by the political, economic and social background of a person’s ancestors, as well as loyalty to the leader and to the regime. Songbun affects the opportunities available to a person– both education and economic. It also determines whether a person is eligible to join the Worker’s Party of Korea, the ruling party.

North Korea Delivers Punishments Spanning Three Generations

Don’t be a fool and commit crimes in North Korea. The most extreme punishment handed out affects not only yourself, but also your children and your children’s children. The kind of crime that attracts this level of punishment? Criticizing the government or trying to escape. The punishment involves being sent to a prison labor camp forever. There are currently 2 million prisoners held in about 16 camps. These camps have been around for much longer than Nazi concentration camps, and only one person has ever escaped. Speaking of extreme punishment, reading the Bible or watching porn are both crimes resulting in… the death penalty.

The Government Chooses Your Job – For Life

When you leave school in North Korea, you are assigned a job for life. The government researches how many people are needed in each industry and assigns jobs accordingly. There’s a six-day working week (48 hours) and on the seventh day, a ‘voluntary’ extra day of work. In a labor work camp in North Korea, the average working week is 112 hours.

Some Surprising Drugs Are Legal in North Korea

Surprisingly, marijuana is legal in the country and isn’t even classified as a drug. Meanwhile, the government actively encourages people to grow opium. However, methamphetamine is so illegal you can be put to death by firing squad for possession. This is a little confusing as North Korea is considered a major exporter of meth! The government recently cracked down on use of this drug and is keen to distance the country from its reputation of profiting from meth.

Kim Jong-il Was a Genius!

According to the word on North Korean streets – or at least in the media – former dictator Kim Jong-il was a genius, already talking at only eight weeks old. He wrote 1,500 books and six operas while still at university. He was also a golfing champion in his only ever game – as verified by all of his guards. Kim Jong-il’s birth is considered divine and was heralded by a double-rainbow and the appearance of a new star in the sky. He was also thought by many to control the weather. Unbelievable? Not in North Korea.

The State Has to Approve Your Haircut

That’s right – there are officially approved haircuts (28 of them in total) and, if you are a citizen, you have to have one of them. Married women are encouraged to keep their hair short while single girls can have longer, curlier styles. If you’re a man, you can’t grow your hair longer than 5cm unless you are over a certain age; then you can get away with up to 7cm. Kim Jong-un’s current haircut is not one of the registered cuts.

Kim Jong-il’s Bar Bill Far Exceeded Average North Korean Incomes

Kim Jong-il’s favorite drink was Hennessy cognac and he was reputed to have spent $700,000 dollars on it every year. He also was a bit of a glutton with very specific tastes. He liked his sushi to be so fresh the mouth of the fish was still moving, and he insisted on a supply of fine gourmet foods from all over the world. Meanwhile, the average income per year in North Korea is between $1,000 and $2,000.

There Are Concubines Who Service the Government

Korean dictators recruit women secretly to work in the government’s so-called pleasure squad. This practice originated with the first dictator and still continues today. After the death of Kim Jong-il, his pleasure squad was disbanded and given money and sworn to secrecy. Kim Jong-un formed his own band of concubines to service the current government elite. Around 2,000 women are enlisted to be on the pleasure squad and are chosen for their looks. The prettiest are reserved for top government officials: their role is to keep them happy.

Kim Jong-un Is Fanatical about Disney

One of our more unusual North Korea facts tells us that Kim Jong-un is reportedly a big fan of Disney. Members of a North Korean band founded by the dictator recently donned Disney costumes and put on a performance that was shown on state TV. Following this, regular Walt Disney productions have been broadcast. Disney may well be something of a family obsession – Kim Jong-un’s older brother, Kim Kong Nam, got into trouble for going to Japan to visit Disneyworld in Tokyo.

Families Separated by Kidnapping Can Reunite Annually

Tensions between North and South Korea are probably not helped by the numbers of South Koreans that have been kidnapped and held in North Korea. Many extended families are separated by the DMZ. However, help is at hand in the form of an amusement park which includes the Meeting Hall for Separated Families, where South Koreans are allowed to be reunited with their loved ones annually. Of course, they have to pay first to be allowed on the all-inclusive package tour.

Kim Jong-un Ordered the Execution of his Uncle

In 2013, Hong Song-Wol, former mistress of Kim Jong-un and a singer turned porn actress, was allegedly put to death. However, she turned up alive and well on TV a year later and has since become prominent in the media. Kim Jong-un is responsible, however, for the dismissal and execution of his uncle, Jang Sung-taek. Married to the only daughter of Kim Il-Sung and second in power for many years under Kim Il-Jong, Jang was publically disgraced and executed along with much of his extended family in 2013.

North Korea Facts – Facts about North Korea Summary

North Korea FactsNorth Korea facts include that the state is viewed as a secretive country that is treated with suspicion by the rest of the world. North Korea was separated from South Korea after WWII and dominated by the Soviets. It is a military dictatorship with an oppressive regime that is highly protected from outside influence. Its leader, now Kim Jong-un, enjoys a lavish lifestyle while most of the country lives in extreme poverty. While North Korea is often a subject of ridicule by the world media, mostly because of the antics of its dictator, the extreme punishments meted out by the state, the concentration camps and the existence of nuclear weapons there should make us all very wary.