North Korea is one of the most secretive nations on the planet. As such, people know very little about the day-to-day lives of North Koreans. Here are some facts about this country that will almost certainly surprise you.
1) Marijuana is legal in North Korea.
Considering that it’s illegal just about everywhere else in the world, it may be surprising to learn that this plant is legal in North Korea. It’s actually sold at markets and can be purchased for as little as 60 cents.
2) North Korea has the largest military in the world.
We tend to think of North Korea as a relatively small country, but it packs quite a military punch. There are an estimated 7.7 million active and reserve soldiers in the North Korean military, compared with just 1.5 million in the United States.
3) Pyongyang is home to the largest stadium in the world.
The North Korean capital has the largest stadium in the world, Rungrado 1st of May Stadium. It is mainly used for soccer matches and the Arirang Festival, a large gymnastics and art festival. In the 1990s, it was also used for a more horrific spectacle: Generals who had plotted against Kim Jong-il were publicly burned alive for treason.
4) The year is 105 in North Korea.
North Korea uses a different calendar from the rest of the world. This calendar is based on the birth of former leader Kim Il-sung. He was born on April 1, 1912, making 2017 year 105 in North Korea.
5) In the 1990s, all teachers were required the learn the accordion.
This instrument is called the “people’s instrument” in North Korea because it’s easily portable and is often played while people do hard manual labor. Teachers are required to learn it and lead their classes in pro–North Korean propaganda songs to begin the day.
6) Kim Jong-il was an amazing savant, according to official North Korean accounts.
The father of Kim Jong-un accomplished some amazing feats during his life, according to official North Korean propaganda. If these reports are to be believed, Kim Jong-il walked at three weeks old, talked at eight weeks old, wrote 1,500 books, six operas, and once made 11 holes-in-one in a row.
7) North Korea gives its citizens the appearance of an election.
Elections are held every five years in North Korea, giving the people a say in who their leader is. Of course, there’s only one option on the ballot. To vote against the one name on the ballot, a person must reach for a red pen in sight of election officials who make note of the person voting against a particular candidate.
8) There are just three television channels in North Korea.
Of these three channels, two are only available on the weekend, and one is only available in the evening. All of these channels are tightly controlled by the government, showing programs and news broadcasts that the government approves.
9) Blue jeans are illegal in North Korea.
Denim is a symbol of American capitalism in North Korea. In order to prevent any American influence in the country, blue jeans are banned.