north korean

North Korea often pops up in our minds as a mysterious place with a secretive regime and strict laws. But there is more to this mysterious country than meets the eye. In this blog, we’ll explore the lesser-known aspects of North Korean daily life, where even the most ordinary objects can inspire wonder and excitement.

1. Ban on old newspapers

Distributing or selling printed newspapers is generally prohibited in North Korea. They can only be hung in special stands in central squares where anyone can read them. Those newspapers are destroyed in the evening.

They do not want people to think about what the newspapers say and plan their future based on any information. Even the slightest errors in articles about Kim Jong-un in North Korean newspapers can result in the death penalty.

2. Don’t try “Wrong” hairstyles

Everything about hairstyles in North Korea is very complicated. For example, in hairdressing salons, only 18 women’s and 15 men’s hairstyles are officially allowed. His posters are displayed at every hair-cutting shop.

It is interesting that the hairstyle of the country’s leader, Comrade Kim Jong-un (it is called “ambitious”), is not available to ordinary people in ordinary hairdressing salons. Apart from the leader himself, only the top people in the DPRK can do this.

3. North Korea’s Unconventional Approach on Condoms

North Korea has a different strategy than most countries in terms of promoting safe practices and awareness when it comes to intimacy. Condoms, the little rubber protectors of mature responsibility, are hard to find in this mysterious realm. Kim Comrade’s argument? He wants the population to increase, and he accuses these hapless Latinx protectors of getting in the way of his grandiose ambition.

So, if you ever find yourself in need of protection in North Korea, you may have to resort to the pinnacle of global diplomacy: importing condoms from China, the world’s condom superpower. Friends, the world is a dangerous place!

4. North Korea’s TV : Four Channels and a Weekend Warrior

With only four official television networks in North Korea, it seems as if they are taking a page out of the playbook of the communist past. While here you are flipping through channels and watching some cultural dance, then there are statements from celebrities who are probably rehearsing dialogues for their political dramas, and then news that seems ideologically valid.

But here’s the kicker – one of those channels is Weekend Warriors! So, if you’re in the mood for some North Korean entertainment during the week, all you have to do is count how many times Kim Jong-un’s haircut appears.

5. Ethical Ban Blue Jeans in North Korea

There’s an untold conflict going on in North Korea, but it has nothing to do with missiles or diplomacy—it’s all about blue jeans! Yes, you read that right—the Hermit Kingdom is all the rage about those denim beauties that were originally only worn by American soldiers. 

Although there is no specific ban against jeans like Coke, you should give it some thought before wearing your favourite pair to the Kim Il Sung mausoleum. Jeans in light blue? Ignore it!

6. Cheers and Tears: No booze

Imagine yourself living in North Korea with its strict alcohol rules! Contrary to your belief, there is a “dry” period during speeches by leaders, public holidays, and days of mourning. So, when the Supreme Leader is speaking, you should put down your drink glass and pay attention because your liver will appreciate it later.

7. No Religion Allowed” policy

In North Korea, they take their “no religion allowed” policy quite seriously. Don’t even think about keeping a Bible on your bookshelf at home; it’s a one-way ticket to a government-sponsored labour camp. And if you dare to talk about the Christian God in public without any good reason, believe me, you can become a devoted believer with hard work! But wait, there’s a twist!

Amidst the religious desert of Pyongyang, you’ll stumble upon the Russian Orthodox Church, which still stands like a rebel in a non-religious world.

8. “North Korea’s Ban on Taxes”

It is forbidden to pay taxes in the DPRK! Are you serious? Nothing—VAT, excise duty, nothing! It’s almost as if Kim Jong-un is the CEO and the entire country works on the honour system, and he’s paid no taxes to relax in his office. No, in North Korea, all your hard-earned money goes into the national piggy bank, where the government chooses who gets paid and who is responsible for paying the water and electricity bills. Talk about elevating the concept of “money management”!

9. Sanitary Products: A Rarity

Imagine living in a society where even the most basic feminine hygiene items are uncommon. Tampons and sanitary napkins are essentially non-existent in normal markets in North Korea.

You may be curious why this strange restriction exists. This ban on feminine hygiene products in North Korea has an unusual and unexpected justification. In a culture that values frugality and uniformity, these items are seen as unnecessary bourgeois luxuries. This system gives more importance to simplicity and traditional processes than modern facilities.

But isn’t this stupid? If you need such things while in North Korea, you will have to go to a store in Pyongyang that offers them. Even there, the selection is small, and what you get is more akin to a standard sanitary cotton bag than the typical tampons or sanitary napkins found in most parts of the world.

10. ban on Coca Cola

It’s like there’s a Coca-Cola conspiracy going on in North Korea! You see, American Coca-Cola is as rare as a unicorn in the DPRK. Maybe they think it’s a secret weapon of the US military; who knows? But wait, guys, the plot thickens because Pepsi, other Sprites, and Fanta get a free pass!

It’s as if North Korea is saying, “We have no problem with Pepsi, but Coke, you’re on our watch list.” And don’t even get me started about sugar cola—it’s probably just as bad for your health as this cola conspiracy theory! So, if you ever find yourself drinking soda in the DPRK, just remember that you may be stepping into international cola espionage territory.

11. Exclusive Internet Club: Gwangmyeon”

When it comes to Internet censorship, North Korea appears to have created a digital VIP club in which only senior government officials, diplomatic missions, certain researchers, and academic institutions are granted access to the World Wide Web. However, browsing is not like the Wild West.

Only a small number of officially approved pages containing extremely serious scientific content are accessible. But here’s the really shocking part: The North Korean equivalent of the Internet is called Gwangmyeon (yes, mind that weird word).

This is the Internet for old-school fanatics. Gwangmyeon is the place to be on the Internet, forget Google!

12. Keeping a Straight Face: No-Laughter Policy”

It appears that North Korea takes its restrictions on humour quite seriously. North Korea, where even making a political joke can get you in trouble! They organise special rallies to remind everyone not to smile while talking about their beloved motherland, because they are very rude about it.

The “no laughing allowed” restriction should also not be forgotten in times of grief. North Koreans had to maintain a solemn expression in public for an incredible 11 days in 2011 because Kim Jong Il was dead.

13. Ban on Disrespect for leaders

In North Korea, they take their respect for Kim seriously. I mean, you can’t even wear jeans to a gravesite. You have to wear a special brooch with the faces of Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung on your chest. It’s like an essential fashion statement that says, “I’m here to praise leaders, and I’m doing it in style!”

Destroying posters containing photographs of leaders and ideological comments is specifically prohibited and will result in fifteen years’ imprisonment. Even foreign visitors are subject to restrictions. Here,  Otto Warmbier, an American traveller, was fined for attempting to vandalise and take away hotel posters.

14. Ban on western fashion and things

Fashion rebels in North Korea, beware! Piercings, tattoos, miniskirts, and coloured hair are all considered absolute taboos. They have polite patrolmen roaming the streets, ready to crush your rebellious edges or issue you a fashion fine at a party meeting. What else? Even western music and movies are on their blacklist.

Yes, there is such a restriction also. For example, foreign jewelery and any Western cars are prohibited. Even Apple products. True, but the Kim family does not actually follow such a restriction

15. Ban on Free movement

North Korean residents cannot easily travel within their country. First of all, you need to get permission, at least from the head of your factory-collective farm. To travel to Pyongyang, as well as to stay here, you usually need special permission from the government.

Only the most ideologically proven and worthy comrades are allowed to settle in the capital. Traveling across the border without the most complex permits from the government is generally taboo for North Koreans – it can even be dangerous.

manish janardhan iit mbm

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Manish love to write and he is a Civil Servant. Users can follow Manish on Instagram

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