North Korea is a bizarre country to say the least.
There are weird rules and systems in the country which believes the deceased founder Kim Il-sung still rules the regime in spirit form. Here are 20 of them.
1. The North Korean calendar is based on its founder's date of birth
It may be the 21st century for the rest of the world but for people in North Korea, it's still the 106th Juche year. The North Korean Juche calendar begins from April 15, 1912, the date of birth of its founder Kim Il-Sung.
2. It has only 3 TV channels
With everything under scrutiny, it's quite obvious that the North Korean regime keeps its media on a tight leash. There are only 3 television channels to choose from, with all programs controlled by the government.
3. Power cut every night
You know how occasional power cuts are so annoying. Now imagine the state of North Koreans whose entire country goes dark at night. It's apparently due to the energy crisis in the state that it can't supply sufficient electricity to homes. This was revealed after a photo of North Korea taken from space went viral.
4. Elections with only one candidate to choose from
With the country's totalitarian regime and the same family ruling since 1948, it's rather funny that the elections are held every year. The voters have only one option to choose from. Whether it's the election for a mayor, provincial governors, or local assemblies, there is only one candidate on the ballot in each district.
What a farce!
5. Parents have to provide desks & chairs for their kids
Parents who send their kids to school are required to provide their own desks and chairs. Some students are also forced to do laborious tasks for the government, such as collecting discarded material.
6. The 3-generation punishment rule
The three-generation punishment rule is a horrifying reality of the country which can't stand any criticism from its citizens. If one person commits a crime, his entire bloodline, including the grandparents, parents and children, are sent to prison.
7. You might be held captive for being creative
It's one of the popular stories that dictator Kim Jong-il kidnapped a film director, Shin Sang-ok and his wife, actor Choi Eun-hee, in 1978 to inject creativity in North Korean films. Later in 1986, after being held against their will for almost a decade, the couple gradually earned the dictator’s trust and escaped during a trip to Austria where they were promoting North Korean films.
8. A propaganda village.
Like so many other propaganda activities, there also exists a "propaganda village" on the border of North and South Korea. In 1953, the Korean Demilitarized Zone was established to end the war and serve as a buffer zone between the two countries. On this border, lies Kijong-dong, the village which boasts of the economic success of North Korea.
But people who've observed the village from South Korea have said that this village is just a sham with no one living there and the occasional sightings of the workers who sweep the streets. It's believed to be a fake show of development built to attract South Korean defectors and intimidate South Korea.
9. North Koreans can visit only 28 websites.
North Korean citizens are only allowed to browse 28 websites on the internet. Their intranet, which is called "Kwangmyong" or Bright, through which internet is accessed, is free to use for those with access to a computer. The computers, however, are very expensive and one needs prior permission from the government to buy one!
10. They've preserved the dead body of Kim Jong-Il
The North Korean regime has left no stone unturned to prove themselves the sole proprietor of the country. The country has preserved the dead body of North Korea's late leader Kim Jong-Il in a glass tomb and it's open for tourists to view. And they are required to bow down at his feet and arms.
11. Blue jeans are banned in the country
North Korea sees blue jeans as a symbol of US imperialism and hence, has banned it in the country.
12. Only 28 hairstyles for men
Korean men can choose from a list of 28 hairstyles. Any hairdo apart from the government approved hairstyles can lead to an arrest. While unmarried woman must keep their hair short, married women have a lot more options to explore.
13. No religious freedom
Like restrictions on every other aspect of life, there's no religious freedom in North Korea. The country calls itself an atheist state and persecutes anyone who is seen practising any religion.
14. Human waste as fertilizer
In 2008, when South Korea stopped sending fertilizers to North Korea, the country faced an acute shortage of fertilizers. So, like everything else, a new law was made and citizens were asked to collect their poop and hand it over to the authorities to help the country's agriculture.
15. Government controls who lives in the capital
With government controlling everything from food to poop, it shouldn't come as a surprise that the autocratic country also controls where its people live. In North Korea, one needs government permission to be able to live in the capital Pyongyang.
Additionally, the owner of any dirty vehicle entering the capital city is fined and those travelling out of the capital need a travel certificate.
16. No ban on pot
It is ironic that the country which ignores basic rights of its citizens has freely available weed or cannabis which can be bought from the roadside.
17. Public execution and human rights violation
Among so many human rights violations and brutalities, North Korea also commits the crime of publicly executing its citizens. Who doesn't remember the 2015 case when the defence chief Hyon Yong-chol was killed in front of hundreds of people with an anti-aircraft gun?
18. North Korea has their own rules for Basketball
North Korea has visibly isolated itself from the rest of the world and it also reflects in the way they play their sports. Their whimsical leader does everything of his own accord. No wonder he rewrote the basketball rules as well.
The North Korean basketball rules say that slam dunks are worth three points and field goals in the final three minutes of the game are worth eight points, as opposed to the normal two points.
19. Ban on music
Kim Jong Un's regime is always on a lookout for anything that may threaten his position. In 2015, Kim-Jong-un issued a decree to scrap all cassette tapes and CDs which had state-banned songs, because lyrics could propel dissent among citizens.
20. North Korea spends huge money on military
This is quite evident from its frequent nuclear and missile tests. The country's economy might be in a dilapidated state with a majority of its population desperate for food, but that doesn't deter North Korea from spending about 20 percent of its GDP on its military.
Thank your lucky stars that you weren't born there.