North Korea is one of the world’s biggest enigmas. What goes on behind closed doors in the Hermit Kingdom? How do the citizens of the country live?
Unfortunately, due to restricted access into the country, it’s difficult to piece together just what life’s like in the world’s most isolated country.
Recent talks between US President Donald Trump and North Korean Dictator Kim Jong Un, however, have seemed to thaw the ice between the traditional rivals, leaving some to speculate on the eventual reunion between North and South Korea.
Until that day comes, however, we may never know just how life is in the Hermit Kingdom. Instead, check out our ten fun facts below to see what little is known about this elusive country.
1. It’s Known as the Hermit Kingdom for a Reason
Access into North Korea is heavily restricted, especially for citizens of Western countries.
And many who come in never come back.
Those who are allowed to enter are prohibited from photographing, videoing, or taking anything out of the country, so it’s hard to paint an exact picture of life there.
Stories from defectors, however, paint an ugly picture.
2. Gone with the Windis a North Korean Favorite
This fun fact about North Korea may come as a surprise. How did an American classic about civil war become one of the most popular books and movies in North Korea?
Because members of the Kim family themselves felt that the story resonated with the North Korean plight during and after the Korean War.
How’s that for a surprise?
3. Many of Their Best Cities Are Fake
Those who enter North Korea are taken to some of the nicest areas of the country, but stories from defectors suggest that it’s all smoke and mirrors.
In fact, it’s believed that North Korea built an entire city along its border to China just to give the appearance that the country is doing well.
The majority of the country, however, lives in poverty.
4. North Korea Will Sometimes Set Up Reunions for Family Split by the Korean War
The relationship between North and South Korea isn’t all bad, as the two powers will sometimes come together and coordinate reunions between families split by the Korean War.
5. The Korean War Still Isn’t Over
This fun fact about North Korea is one of the more serious ones. While the two countries did sign a ceasefire agreement in the 1950s, the two countries are technically still at war.
6. North Korea Remains One of the Only Countries Not Under the Central Bank
North Korea remains outside the global loop in more ways than one. The entire country does not fall under the global central banking system, making them one of the only countries in the world to not be under its influence.
7. North Korea Has One of the World’s Largest Armies
Despite having a population much lower than that of their neighbors to the south, North Korea has one of the largest armies in the world. With almost six million troops in reserve, North Korea boasts a paramilitary group that holds the title of the world’s largest.
8. At One Point, North Korea Was Actually Wealthier Than South Korea
This kid-friendly fun fact about North Korea is actually quite educational. Though it’s easy to think of North Korea as the weaker—and poorer—of the two countries now, significant help from the Soviet Union helped create a span of a little over two decades where North Korea was the richer of the two countries.
Incredible economic development in South Korea, however, soon led them to eclipse North Korea in terms of economic strength.
9. Religion is Banned in North Korea
No religion is allowed in North Korea. Instead, citizens are encouraged to praise their “divine” leaders. This cult of personality has kept the Kim family in power through three generations so far.
10. The Average North Korean is Shorter than the Average South Korean
Another surprising fun fact about North Korea is that its population is on average shorter than that of South Korea.
Because intense famine and malnutrition have helped stunt children’s growth, making them shorter than children born to the south.
To combat this, North Korean soldiers have been known to exaggerate their height when standing across from South Korean soldiers.