North Korea is a rather secretive country and has found limelight for its politics amongst other things. Let’s dig deeper!
1. While we know there to be two countries namely North Korea and South Korea, the locals themselves believe there is only one country. Even in school, the children are taught with maps reflecting one single country, Korea.
2. All over the world the capitals typically tend to be the more developed cities of the country. Pyongyang however is conferred such an elevated status that one requires permission to actually live in the capital. Apparently, permission is mostly granted only to those of high standing and financial power.
3. The country is not very religious and even the above-mentioned practices actually see very little presence. Could this have anything to do with the fact that owning a Bible is illegal? Once a woman was distributing Bibles when she was not only arrested but went on to be executed.
4. The country greatly places constraints on internet access. There is one secure server however a meagre 1% of the population actually uses it.
5. Meanwhile, there are only 3 TV channels! And you and I are busy scrolling through Tata Sky and complaining that some channels don’t make “Life Jhingalala”.
6. Oh, and if you think that’s bizarre, how does the fact that there are only 28 approved haircuts sound? Yeah, now you become a fashion and hairstyle blogger, I dare you! Katora cut
7. As for the good life, well, at a time leader Kim Jong II was spending up to $800,000 on Hennessy annually!
8. Meanwhile, consumption of marijuana is not only legal but pretty open and casual.
9. Ah but I don’t know if parents agree about the good life because if they wish to send their offspring to school, they have to provide everything. And I mean, desks, chairs, tables, everything!
10. Parents also need to worry about the names of their children. Why? Because it is prohibited for anyone else to have the same name as the ruler. So, let’s say you had a certain name for a decade but if the person ascending the throne bears the same name, then yours has to be changed urgently.
11. In fact, the country’s founder Kim II Sung holds such a highly prestigious status that the country has followed their calendar from his birth on April 15th, 1912.
12. No no, we haven’t hit rock bottom yet. North Korea has a “three generations punishment” rule meaning that not only is a criminal sent to prison but so is his entire family and the next two generations also take birth and live there itself.
13. And if you can stomach it, there is a group called the Kippumjo maintained by the head of the state. The Kippumjo involves multiple groups of girls and women for the purpose of providing pleasure and entertainment to high officials and distinguished guests.
14. The military is one of the largest in the world and has the biggest Special Forces unit. This is ensured as enrolment in the military is compulsory. For men it is compulsory for 10 years after turning 18 years old, for women it is from finishing school until the age of 23.
15. I wonder if it was the Special Forces who were responsible being the kidnapping of a South Korean director and his actress wife. I don’t know who kidnapped them but it is said Shing San Ok and wife Choe Eun Hui were kidnapped and brought to North Korea not because they were enemies of the state but to make movies for the country! They escaped after 8 years.
Trip Leader Niyati’s Recommendations:
Well, if you do plan to visit North Korea, I’m sure you have it for bizarre things! Or maybe your curious mind just wants to understand this country for itself. If you do decide to visit North Korea, please keep in mind that it is a strict state and check up on all customs and practices that you need to observe even as a tourist. For example, at some places taking pictures is a crime! Yep, so make sure to be well read and prepared. If you visit, you could check out these places:
1. Former dictator Kim Jong il’s preserved body is one of the most popular attractions of the country! Visit the mausoleum to learn about his life and leadership.
2. Plan your visit around the Arirang Festival or Arrang Mass Games, which are generally held either in August or September, for a little taste of their artistic side. The games are a mass gymnastic and artistic festival in which performances denote the story of the country. Its even won a Guinness World Record for being the largest mass performance!
3. Go up the high tower of Juche to catch a bird’s eye view of the entire capital. At a height of 170m, it is made up of 25,550 granite blocks for each day of former head Kim il Sung’s lifespan. The tower is said to represent the concept of “juche” meaning self-reliance.
4. For a taste of the natural beauty of the country, head on over to Mount Kumgang!
5. In addition, you may also enjoy going to Myohyangsan Mountain the name of which means fragrant mountains. The green area has some nice hikes and trails for you to take in its scenic settings.
How to Reach:
Air China and Air Koryo have direct flights from Delhi to North Korea.