Interesting Facts about Communist North Korea

Updated: May 8

For decades the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) has been the most secretive country in the world. North Korea looks like a island with out electricity from space in one of the brightest place in the world.

North Korea from space at night image credit Nasa

The United States first imposed sanctions on North Korea in the 1950's under the trading with the enemy act of 1915. Though out the years the United States has further tightened sanctions after international bombings against South Korea by North Korean agents during the 1980's occurred. In 1988, the United States added North Korea to its list of countries that sponsor terrorism.

Sanctions eased against North Korea during the 1990's when South Korea's then-liberal government pushed for engagement policies with North Korea. However, the relaxed sanction were short lived as North Korea continued its nuclear weapons program and officially withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003. World powers continue to punish North Korea with economic sanctions imposed after its first nuclear weapons test in 2006, cyberattacks, money laundering, and human rights violations. Just some of the many sanctions are, banning the trade of weapons and military equipment, freeze the assets of people involved in the nuclear program, and restrict scientific cooperation.

When the economy overall hurts North Korea does not cut the military first, they cut it last. North Korea has one of the world's largest conventional military forces, spending nearly a quarter of its gross domestic product (GDP) on its military, according to U.S. State Department estimates. Estimates on North Korea's active military personnel vary, but the figure stands somewhere around one million, this making it the fourth largest army in the world behind India, United States, and China. North Korea has conducted six nuclear tests, in 2006, 2009, 2013, twice in 2016, and in 2017. North Korea's Hwasong-15 missile has a potential range of more than 8,000 miles (13,000 km), able to reach Washington and the rest of the United States.

North Korea has a mandatory military service, men are universally conscripted at age 17 and service ends at 30. In 2015, though, North Korea started requiring all women who graduated high school to serve in the military until age 23. Other countries with mandatory military service are Bermuda, Burundi, Cape Verde, Colombia, France, Kuwait, Mali, Mauritania, Singapore, Sweden, Thailand, and Venezuela.

.American USS Pueblo spy ship captured by North Korea

North Koreans captured the American USS Pueblo spy ship 18 miles off the coast of North Korea on January 23 1968, with 83 Americans on-board. The Pueblo spy ship was approached by a Korean submarine chaser and the ships identity was challenged. The Americans responded by raising the U.S. flag. The Pueblo was ordered to surrender or be fired upon. After several warning shots, the appearance of three torpedo boats on the horizon and 2 Mig21 jetfighters that joined the attack the Pueblo crew surrendered. The crew of Pueblo and U.S. Navy authorities insist that the Pueblo was miles outside North Korean territorial waters. ​ The Americans were kept for 11 months, and the whole situation nearly escalated into a full-scale war between the two nations. The seizure of the Pueblo remains one of the most embarrassing incidents in American history, as it is the first hijacking of a naval vessel since the Civil War, 153 years earlier and remains as a trophy for North Korea.

North Korea's Kim Jong Un would have his people "eat grass" before giving up his nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. In the 1990's, a devastating famine struck North Korea. A combination of drought, flooding and government mismanagement decimated food production. The death toll is uncertain, but estimates range from 240,000 - 2,000,000. Today, agricultural scientists and aid representatives familiar with the situation believe that North Korea is still unable to feed all of its population. Food shortages have forced North Koreans to eating barely digestible or even poisonous plants and forced to mix corn powder with tree bark to deal with hunger. North Koreans say they will eat grass if that is what it takes to keep their nuclear arsenal as they are educated by Kim Jong-un's "brutal" regime to fear the United States.

North Korean's Daily Human Manure Quotas for fertilizer

There is no agricultural sector in the world that can survive without oil-based products to fuel farm machinery, power processing and storage facilities. As these Sanctions include fertilizer, the North Korean government has decreed that every able-bodied citizen must turn in 100 kg (220 lbs) of human manure a day to be used for fertilizer, to bolster the agricultural sector. As most people can not deliver 220 lbs of human manure daily they have alternatives. They can supply 300 kg of compost, buy compost and manure from merchants, or pay cash. Cash payments exceed the value of the manure that actually ends up being delivered, so people are saying the regime is just using the quota as a means to collect more money from the citizens. Last year’s crop was the worst in a decade and more than 10 million people do not have enough food to last until the next harvest. International sanctions on North Korea remain firmly in place in an attempt to force concessions in the North Korea’s nuclear program.

There are 51 classes of people in North Korea, only the trusted people dedicated to the regime can live as a citizen of Pyongyang. These citizens are hand picked by the supreme leader Kim Jong Un and the government. For the chosen few life in better.

The Ryugyong Hotel in North Korea remains uncompleted for decades.

In 1987 construction began on the Ryugyong Hotel in the North Korea capitol of pyoyngyan, it was to be the world's tallest Hotel standing at 330m (1080 ft). Work was halted in 1992 after the breakup of the Soviet Union as North Korea entered into a period of economic crisis. The 105 floor building stood, without any windows or interior fixtures, top out by a truncated cone 40 metres (130 ft) wide, consisting of eight floors that are intended to rotate, topped by a further six static floors. In 2008 an Egyptian company entered into a deal with North Korea to build a mobile phone network, mysteriously agreed to complete the Ryugyong Hotel, the exterior became finished in 2011. It was planned to open the hotel in 2012 but interior of the Ryugyong Hotel still remains unfinished. In 2018, a LED display was fitted to one side, which was used to show propaganda animation and film scenes. To this day the Ryugyong Hotel is the tallest unoccupied building in the world.

The Unfinished Ryugyong Hotel Rungrado May Day Stadium Inside Rungrado Stadium

Even though North Korea has been unable to complete the Ryugyong Hotel in pyoyngyan, it boast the world largest seating capacity in the Rungrado Stadium with seats for 150,000 people. The stadium site occupies an area of 20.7 hectares (51 acres). Officially by North Korean claims the stadium supposedly has a capacity of 150,000 people, but the real capacity is under 114,000. Even the lower actual capacity ranks first on the list of largest stadiums by capacity in the world. The Michigan Stadium comes at second place with 107,601 seats. North Korea has become a hacking titan North Korea is still the least Internet-friendly country on Earth with only 2 connection to the outside world. Access to the global Internet for most is unimaginable, where only the trusted elite can surf the Internet. Hardly anyone has a personal computer or an email address that isn't shared, and the price for trying to get around the government's rules can be severe. North Korea sends its most trusted citizens to a grueling hacker training program on the Chinese mainland. North Korean hackers have done one cyber attack after another, Sony Pictures Entertainment in 2014, in 2016, they plundered $81 million US from the central bank of Bangladesh, repeated attacks on South Korea and in May 2017, North Korean hackers unleashed the WannaCry attack that took down computers in 150 countries, using a cyber-tool that a top US intelligence agency lost. Most recently hacked the systems of US electric utilities, and Ontario accused North Korea of trying to hack a rail system around Toronto. For the general public in North Korea the internet, if they manage to afford a laptop, is only propaganda website created by the regime. ​ North Korea Has a 3 generation punishment policy. If a north Korean breaks the law, it’s not only that person who gets punished, but the whole family for three generations forward are punished in one of 15 to 20 reeducation camps. Common criminals convicted of crimes such as murder, robbery, rape, drug dealing, smuggling, piracy, vandalism, etc. have also been reported to be executed, mostly by firing squad. ​ Approved haircuts in North Korea North Koreans have just 15 styles to choose from when getting their hair cut. Men and women in the secretive hermit state have reportedly been given an illustrated guide of “approved” hairstyles which have been deemed acceptable by tyrant leader Kim Jong-un. None hair cuts can be that of the style of Kim Jong-un as that iconic haircut, nicknamed the “ambitious”, is off-limits to the general public. ​ President Trump become first sitting U.S. President to step into North Korea In a historic moment, Trump accepted Kim Jong Un's invitation to step into North Korea and became the first U.S. president to step into North Korea as he strode by himself across the demilitarized zone and shook hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Afterward they met in the demilitarized zone Freedom House for 40 minutes.