North Korea, whose official name is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, has been a country that millions of people have been curious about for many years. Because almost nothing is known about North Korea due to the closed regime in the country. For this reason, myths and legends about North Korea are told as if they were real, and accepted. However, we also have some information about this island country, which has interesting exits in world politics from time to time, of which you are sure of the truth.
For example, North Korea was established on September 9, 1948, in the north of the Korean Peninsula, with the support of the Soviet Union. On the other hand, there are much more interesting things we know about North Korea, which has been insulated from the world for many years. Here are 17 surprising facts about North Korea that you probably haven’t heard before…
1. North Korea has been at war with South Korea since 1950
II. With the end of World War II, the Korean Peninsula became one of the battlegrounds of the United States and the Soviet Union. At the end of this struggle, the US-led pro-Western South Korea was established in the south of the island, while the communist North Korea, under the guidance of the Soviet Union, was established in the north.
The ultimate goal of both countries was to create a unified Korea. However, they were advocating quite different methods on how the unification would take place. This is why a war broke out between the two countries in 1950.
By 1953, the hot conflicts in the region decreased and the actual war ended. However, the two countries never formally signed a peace treaty. This is why the war between North and South Korea has technically been going on since 1950.
2. People don’t call themselves North Koreans
Because according to them, there is only one legitimate government and only one Korean people on the island. Of course, they consider the legitimate government to be their own government and simply call themselves Korean.
In the view of the North Koreans, those living in South Korea are also citizens of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, and therefore they are also Korean. But they are oppressed by an illegitimate government.
3. Managed by the same family since its founding
First leader of North Korea, World War II. It was Kim Il-sung who waged guerrilla warfare during World War II. Il-sung ruled the country alone from 1948 until his death in 1994. During this time he achieved the title of “Great Leader”. When Il-sung died, his son Kim Jong-il took over the administration of the country. Jong-il, on the other hand, ruled the country until his death in 2011 and was named “Dear Leader”. The administration of North Korea is now in the hands of Jong-il’s son, Kim Jong-un.
4. Not a communist country
One of the biggest misconceptions about North Korea is that the country is still governed by communism. Yes, North Korea was founded years ago around communist ideology. Today, however, they have largely abandoned this ideology.
So much so that almost everything related to communism was removed from their constitutions gradually until 2009. The country is governed by the Juche doctrines created by Jong-il and set as the country’s official ideology.
5. North Korea has its own calendar
This calendar starts from 1912, the year Kim Il-sung was born.
6. One of the world’s largest art studios is located in North Korea
The capital city of Pyongyang is home to a huge structure called Mansudae Art Studio, built on a land of 120,000 square meters. The best artists of the country are employed by the state in this institution.
7. The public does not have access to the Internet
In the country, only a few thousand people in the elite class are allowed to use the internet. But even the internet used by the elite is not the internet as we know it. The elite can use North Korea’s “own internet” called Kwangmyong.
Of course, in this internet system, it is possible to access only the sites permitted by the government. The only class in the country with real internet access are the units that do propaganda or hacking on behalf of the government.
8. The North Korean government claims that the literacy rate in the country is one hundred percent
9. Citizens of only two countries in the world can travel to North Korea without a visa
Malaysia and Singapore. Anyone who is not a citizen of these two countries must apply for a visa to visit North Korea and travel with a government-approved tour agency.
10. North Korea has the 4th largest army in the world
The number of active duty soldiers in the country is estimated to be 1.21 million people. In other words, about 5 percent of the country’s population is soldiers! When paramilitary forces and reserve military personnel are also involved, the number of soldiers in the country is thought to approach 10 million.
11. Military service is compulsory for both women and men
Since 2015, women in North Korea also have to enlist before the age of 23. Men in the country are recruited at the age of 17 and their term of office is at least 10 years!
12. Pyongyang subway, also a nuclear bunker
13. North Korea has its own space program
The country has been running a program for many years that includes various space missions such as launching rockets and satellites into space. How successful the program has been, however, is highly debatable.
14. There are only 4 television channels in the country
Among these channels, there is a historical propaganda and news channel, two education channels and a sports channel that conveys the sports developments in the country.
15. Power outages are quite common in North Korea
Because the electricity infrastructure of the country is quite old. For this reason, power outages occur frequently throughout the country. Accordingly, many electrical devices, especially televisions, are allowed to be used only during certain hours.
16. North Korea owes Sweden $300 million
In the mid-1970s important trade agreements were made between Sweden and North Korea. During this period, Sweden sent a thousand cars to North Korea to be paid later. This debt is still unpaid today, and the Swedish government recalculates every year how much North Korea owes them, with interest.
17. North Korea has an extremely beautiful nature
The country draws attention especially with its breathtaking mountain landscapes covered with lush forests.