North Korea never fails to surprise and amaze the whole world. Despite the fact that this country is closed to ordinary tourists, and you won’t be able to see a photo from there on Instagram, sometimes weirdly horrifying and amusing facts about this country do make headlines.
The country is known to be the most closed country, which is not surprising given the number of terrible laws. The state takes away fundamental rights from its citizens and imposes strange totalitarian rules on them.
Here’s a list of a few laws that will blow your minds and will make you thank you for not being born there.
Foreign movies and songs are not allowed
Watching foreign movies or listening to foreign music can send North Korean citizens to jail. In 2015, North Korea’s dictator Kim Jong-un ordered the destruction of all cassette tapes and CDs that had state-banned songs in order to contain dissent. Moreover, Watching American movies or distributing pornography can lead to the death penalty. There are only three channels on TV in North Korea, and all content is controlled by the government.
Making International calls is a crime
North Korean citizens are not allowed to make international calls as it’s considered a crime there. According to reports, in 2007 a North Korean factory boss was executed by a firing squad in front of 150,000 people after being accused of making international calls on 13 phones he installed in a factory basement.
Disloyalty to the leader can mean the death penalty
Falling asleep during a meeting with Kim Jong-un is considered disloyalty to the leader and may also lead to the death penalty. According to reports, in 2015, North Korea’s Defence Minister Hyon Yong-chol was gunned down by anti-aircraft fire in front of 100 people for behavior such as falling asleep in Kim Jong-un’s presence.
If anyone commits a crime in North Korea, not only he or she will be punished, but also their grandparents, parents and children. This terrible law was created to prevent people from escaping from prison.
Only government-approved haircuts
All men and women can only do one of 28 government-approved haircuts, 18 for women, and 10 for men; other hairstyles are prohibited. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un introduced this law in 2013 and did not include his hairstyle on this list because he wanted to keep it unique and absolutely no one can dare to copy his hairstyle. It is assumed that married women should wear shorter haircuts than unmarried women.
Permission needed to live in the national capital
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un wants only the most successful, wealthy, and influential people to live in North Korea’s Pyongyang. People must have an express permission to live in the capital.
Students required to pay for their own desks and chairs
The students must pay for their desks and chairs in the class! School fees doesn’t cover this.
Bible is banned in North Korea
In North Korea, the Bible is considered a symbol of Western culture and is therefore prohibited because it can transform people. One Christian woman who was distributing the Bible was arrested and executed.
In 2014, Jeffrey Fowle, an American citizen on tour of North Korea, was arrested and imprisoned for five months because he forgot the Bible in the bathroom of a restaurant at the Chongjin Sailor’s Club.
No iPhones or laptops
No iPhones, TVs or laptops for North Koreans! The people of this country know very little about electronics and technology, as the government’s isolation policy hides a lot.
Strict customs rules
If you are a tourist, customs check all your music, films and written materials, and only then you will be allowed into the country.
Prison camps in North Korea
It is believed that about 200,000 North Koreans live in the camps. They were arrested for alleged political crimes. If a person commits a political crime, his entire family is interned. If a prisoner manages to escape, his entire family would be killed. 40% of prisoners interned in these concentration camps die from malnutrition. Many of them are sentenced to hard labor for seemingly reasonable terms, but more often than not they work to death.
North Korea has a different calendar called the Juche calendar than the rest of the world. It begins with April 15, 1912 the birth date of their dear revolutionary leader Kim Il Sung.
Only one leader to vote in the election
North Korea holds elections and all the citizens above 17 mandatorily have to vote in the elections but they are not entirely free elections. In each election, you only have 1 option. As a result, 100% of Koreans vote for their dear leader.
No Marijuana law
Ironically, a country that is extremely conservative has no drug problems. Even though, it is illegal to use, sell, or possess marijuana in North Korea. Nevertheless, marijuana grows along the roads completely freely, therefore, if suddenly someone from the local area wants to take advantage of this opportunity, he can do it completely calmly.
Insult to Kim and his family considered blasphemy
All North Koreans who live under Kim Jong-un’s rule must swear loyalty and obedience to him, his family and the state. Anything that could be perceived as an insult to Kim’s family, the North Korean government is considered blasphemy and severely punished. This applies to both immigrants from North Korea and tourists.
Anything that can be considered a threat or insult will lead to imprisonment or even execution.
Many are also familiar with the case of American citizen and student Otto Warmbier, who was visiting North Korea as part of a guided tour group arrested at Pyongyang International Airport while awaiting departure from the country after he tried to steal a billboard from his hotel room. Warmbier was locked in a prison cell and was released in a vegetative state and died soon afterward in June 2017.
Not allowed to leave the country
You must have thought why North Koreans have to be faced with such dire laws, do not flee. And they can’t. Any North Korean citizen is prohibited from leaving the country, and anyone who crosses the border without official documents will be shot by guards. The most severe punishment exists for those who try to escape or hide from Kim’s totalitarian rule, and it is almost certainly always death.
Military service is compulsory
Military service is compulsory for all North Koreans. 10 years for men and 7 years for women.
Power cut every night
North Koreans face power cuts every night due to the energy crisis in the country and using electricity need permission and owning a microwave is illegal.