75 Interesting Facts About North Korea

  1. The Korean Peninsula in Asia was divided in 1945 after the end of the Japanese occupation of Korea in World War 2. USSR and USA divided Korea into North Korea and South Korea, respectively. Later, the two areas became two separate countries. North Korea adopted communism under the influence of the Soviet Union.
  2. North Korea has diplomatic relations with 164 countries. However, only 24 countries have their embassies in Pyongyang. (Source)
  3. Around 5,000 western tourists visit North Korea annually. USA banned its citizens from visiting North Korea in 2017 after the mysterious death of a US citizen. (Source)
  4. Around 1,400 people were executed in North Korea between 2000 and 2013. Few of these death penalties were for offenses like watching or distributing South Korean films and drug smuggling. (Source)
  5. Collective punishment is common in North Korea. Three generations of an offender have to suffer in political prison camps. (Source)
  6. Mount Paektu in North Korea is the highest mountain on the Korean Peninsula. This mountain is also known as the birthplace of the Korean revolution.
  7. North Korea has the world’s largest military (active, reserve, and paramilitary combined), the highest number of total military personnel as a percentage of the total population (around 310 per 1000 people), and the highest number of active military personnel as a percentage of total population (approximately 50 per 1000 people). (Source
    North Korean soldiers
    North Korea has world's largest military by percentage of population

  8. North Korea is among a few countries with mandatory military service for males and females. North Korea started female conscription in 2015. Women need to serve in the military till age 23. (Source)
  9. North Korea is the only country that captured a US Navy ship. The U.S.S. Pueblo was caught by North Korea during a spy mission in 1968. 82 crew members remained in the custody of North Korea for 11 months. The ship is still in North Korea. (Source)
  10. North Korea has a missile that can reach Alaska (USA).
  11. North Korea is among eight countries that have tested their nuclear weapons successfully.
  12. Few American soldiers defected to North Korea. The last of them resided in North Korea from 1962 till his death in 2016. (Source)
  13. North Korea is using human feces as fertilizers to increase agricultural production. It is mandatory for People either to provide 200 pounds of human manure or 600 pounds of livestock manure to the government every day. (Source)
  14. During the North Korean famine (1994-98), around 3 million people died. North Korea still depends heavily on other countries for food supply to its people.
  15. Since the foundation of North Korea, the rule of the country remained in the hands of its founder Kim Il-sung and his family.
  16. In 2016, North Korea made it mandatory for its people to work for 70 days continuously to reduce the effects of nuclear program sanctions. The workers were allowed to take leave during these ten weeks after making payment. (Source)
  17. According to reports, North Korean children can’t be named after leaders of the country; Kim Il Sung, Kim Jong Il, and Kim Jong-un. (Source)
  18. There was a report that Kim Jong Un killed his uncle by throwing him naked in a cage with 120 starving dogs. But later, this proved to be false. (Source)
  19. North Korea kidnapped a film actress and director from South Korea in 1978 and forced them to make 17 propaganda films. (Source)
  20. Kim Il Sung was born on 15th April 1912. It was the same day when the Titanic sank. (Source)
  21. Kim Il Sung brought 1,000 Volvo cars from Sweden in 1974 without making payment. North Korea is still using these cars. (Source)
  22. Kim Il-sung is regarded as the Eternal President of North Korea. (Source
    Kim Il Sung
    Kin Il Sung is the eternal president of North Korea

  23. North Korea has its communist ideology named Juche (self-reliance). The purpose behind this doctrine was to differentiate North Korea from its neighboring communist countries (USSR and China). It also convinces ordinary North Koreans to accept their leaders as god-like figures. (Source)
  24. North Korea has its calendar, the Juche calendar. It starts with the year of birth of its founder Kim Il-sung in 1912.
  25. In 2015, North Korea adopted its own Pyongyang Time, which is different from the time in South Korea and Japan. (Source)
  26. The citizens of North Korea need permission to reside in Pyongyang. Only people with higher status and loyalists to the ruling party live in the capital. (Source)
  27. North Korea’s national animal is a mythical winged horse, the chollima. (Source)
  28. There are 4 TV channels available in North Korea. There are separate TV channels for news and politics, science, sports, and arts and culture. (Source)
  29. Watching foreign movies is illegal in North Korea. But many people watch Hollywood movies and other foreign content mainly through DVD players. (Source)
  30. The Korean War (1950-53) ended in 1953. But North and South Korea haven’t signed any truce, and technically they are still at war.
  31. The lowest temperature in the Korean Peninsula has been recorded in Chunggang in North Korea. This record-low temperature is -43.6 C.
  32. Balloons and parachutes are used as tools to send Bibles and other restricted items in North Korea. (Source)
  33. In 1969, US President Richard Nixon planned a nuclear strike on North Korea in retaliation for the downing of a US spy plane. (Source)
  34. North Korean people are several inches shorter than South Koreans. The height difference is not due to genetics but a result of malnutrition. (Source)
  35. In North Korea, only 28 types of haircuts were previously allowed (18 for women and 10 for men). (Source)
  36. According to the latest reports, the number of state-approved haircuts has increased to 30 (15 each for both males and females). (Source)
  37. Male university students in North Korea must copy Kim Jong-un’s haircut. (Source)
  38. North Korean citizens can’t wear tight jeans, dye their hair, and adopt western hairstyles because they symbolize capitalism. (Source)
    Space image of North Korea and its neighboring countries at night
    North Korea looks dark at night due to low electricity production

  39. Due to low electricity production, many parts of North Korea look almost dark at night compared to its neighboring countries.
  40. According to Corruption Perception Index, North Korea is the 8th most corrupt country in the world. (Source)
  41. According to the data provided by World Bank, there were less than 3% of paved roads in North Korea in 2006. (Source)
  42. North Korea earns millions of dollars by exporting weapons and other illegal items to friendly countries, evading UN sanctions. (Source)
  43. The major export of North Korea is giant statues of foreign dictators. The biggest market for these statues is in Africa. (Source)
  44. North Korea eradicated income tax and other direct taxes in 1974 and claimed to be the world’s only tax-free country. However, it collects indirect taxes and user fees from its citizens. (Source)
  45. North Korea holds parliamentary elections after every five years. There is a single candidate for each seat. Voting is compulsory, and the turnout always remains nearly 100%. (Source)
  46. People in North Korea are divided into three classes according to loyalty and family background. These include the loyalists, the hesitant, and the hostiles.
  47. North Korea has constructed a town of Kijong Dung, commonly known as “Peace Village” on the DMZ along the South Korean border. The purpose of this village was to lure defectors from South Korea. But this village is empty and is known as “Propaganda Village” due to its mysterious nature. (Source)
  48. Organizations like Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International have declared North Korea as the country with one of the worst human rights records in the world. (Source) (Source)
  49. In the 1990s, all teachers in North Korea needed to play accordion. (Source  
  50. Since 1960, both North and South Korea have used loudspeakers at the border for propaganda. They removed these giant loudspeakers in 2018. (Source) 
  51. It costs $8,000 to defect from North Korea and move to China. The cost and dangers have increased significantly after Kim Jong-un came into power. (Source)
  52. Crystal meth and other illegal drugs are common in North Korea. The most popular is crystal meth due to its production inside North Korea and hunger-suppressing feature. (Source
  53. In 2013, North Korea and South Korea used fax machines to send threats to each other. (Source)
    A fax machine
    North and South Korea exchanged threats through fax machines

  54. Rungrado Stadium in Pyongyang is the world’s largest stadium by seating capacity. This stadium, opened in 1989, can accommodate between 114,000 and 150,000 spectators. (Source)
  55. Several defectors have told about the miserable condition of women in North Korea. Sexual violence is common in detention centers and also against working women. (Source)
  56. North Korea is the poorest country in Asia, with a per capita GDP of $651. Nearly 60% of the country’s population lives below the poverty level. (Source)
  57. There are labor camps in Russia’s Far East and Siberia with North Korean workers. (Source)
  58. North Korean leaders are known for avoiding airplane flights. They always use special trains even during long journeys. (Source)
  59. A North Korean pilot defected to South Korea in 1953 and received a $100,000 reward from the USA. (Source)
  60. Cuba tried to send weapons to North Korea in 2013. The ship was seized in Panama. (Source)
  61. Education is compulsory and free in North Korea. It is the reason that the country has a 99% literacy rate.
  62. North Koreans have access to their intranet instead of the internet. The name of this intranet is Kwangmyong which is only accessible from inside North Korea. (Source)
  63. North Korea accidentally leaked DNS data in 2016. This data showed that North Korea only has 28 websites. These sites are separate from over 1,000 government-sanctioned websites available via North Korea’s national intranet. (Source)
  64. In 2013, authorities locked down Pyongyang for three days after finding anti-Kim Jong Il graffiti. (Source)   
  65. North Korea donated $500,000 to pro-North Korean residents in Japan after the 2011 Tsunami. North Korea’s Red Cross independently delivered $100,000 to the Japanese Red Cross. (Source
  66. North Korea earned around $200 million in 2017 by exporting banned items, including iron, coal, seafood, weapons, lead, and textiles. (Source)
  67. North Koreans have their computer software known as “Red Star OS,” which is very similar to Mac Os. (Source)
  68. A trained chimpanzee in Pyongyang zoo is known for smoking cigarettes. (Source)
  69. In 2007, a US destroyer saved a North Korean vessel from Somali pirates. North Korea replied with a rare expression of gratitude. (Source
    Somali pirates on a ship
    A US destroyer saved North Korean vessel from Somali pirates in 2007

  70. North Korea accidentally hit its city after a failed test of an intermediate-range missile in 2017. (Source)
  71. North Korea has built several invasion tunnels at DMZ (demilitarized zone) along the border with South Korea. The first such tunnel was discovered in 1974. (Source)
  72. Panmunjom Flagpole in North Korea is the world’s tallest supported flagpole. The height of this flagpole near the South Korean border is 160 m (525 ft.). (Source)
  73. Several foreigners have reported that radio is present in every North Korean house for Govt. propaganda. This radio can’t be turned off, but the volume is controllable. (Source)
  74. North Koreans can only listen to music if the artist and songs are approved by govt. (Source)
  75. Rollerblading is the most popular type of sport and recreational activity in North Korea. Rollerblading locations are spread all over the country. (Source)

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