In August, I introduced you to a new segment – Fun with Countries. We started the run off with Svalbard and Jan Mayen. While someone who knows someone who knows someone who lives on Svalbard reached out to me, I am still yet to get that person to visit my page. C’mon, @sejsejlija, join the golden party! Pretty please?
This month, we are taking a trip to North Korea.
A friend told me that I will probably never get a single view from North Korea because of their Internet censorship. However, I see this as a challenge and an opportunity. To increase my chances of getting that coveted view, I was told to write something terrible about North Korea and/or their leader. The unintended side-effect might be my assassination, though. The thing is that I do not have anything negative to say about that country or the Head of State.
So what is the truth about the Internet in North Korea? Only people given permission are able to use the Internet (generally the government and foreigners). The average citizen only has access to a small portion of the Internet through a domestic-only network called “Kwangmyong,” which one has to use dial-up internet to browse. Do you remember how long it took to open a website back in the day when you did not have speedy access? Not many can afford dial-up, anyway. Those who have access to the outside Internet are only allowed 1-5.5 thousand websites.
North Korea is supposed to have over 25 million citizens while only a little over a thousand IP addresses, which means that a large portion of the population does not even own a computer. (South Korea has over 112 million IPs with around 51 million people.)
North Koreans do not use Microsoft on their computers. They do not own Macs, either. Their system is called Red Star OS.
Because a mobile phone network was said to have been used in the assassination of the previous leader – Kim Jong-il, it was taken offline. It has now returned, but the towers are built only around big towns, leaving the rural citizens without access to a cell phone network.
Tablets and phones have no access to Wi-fi.
Has North Korea always been the way it is now? No. At the beginning of the XX century (Do you like Roman numerals?), Korea (as a whole) was annexed and became a part of Japan. However, a few decades later when Japan capitulated at the end of World War II, the North part of the peninsula became occupied by the Soviets, while the South by the United States of America. There were talks meant to unify the peninsula, but they ultimately led to nowhere, and the territories split for good only a couple of years later (1948). New governments were formed. North Korea tried to invade their Southern counterparts, which led to a three-year-long war. The fire was ultimately ceased, but no peace treaty was signed.
In the US, it can be difficult to pay any bill into effect if your party does not have the majority. In North Korea, all governmental officers must be members of the same party, which is led by the ruler’s family. That way, there is no conflict and the process of negotiations goes smoothly (there is no need for it).
It is important to remember that people who live on the Korean peninsula do not see themselves as North or South Koreans. Since both – the North and South – governments see themselves as the rightful rulers of the entire region, people are encouraged to see “the others” as their compatriots in a divided country. I believe I rule the world, yet all the other nations fail to recognize my reach.
In the early years of the 70s, officials from both countries began to talk, but then South Korea suggested that both countries seek separate representation in international organizations and the talks ended.
The death of the ruler – Kim Il-sung was mourned for three years (!!!) before Kim Jong-il officially took over the reigns. Both men died of heart attack. It makes me wonder how the current leader will meet his end.
About 80% of North Korea is comprised of mountains and uplands. Forests cover about 70% of the country. (Sounds quite dreamy to me!)
The country’s climate is influenced in the winter by winds from Siberia (snowstorms) and in the summer by monsoon winds from the Pacific (hot, rainy, humid).
Aside from a small group of Chinese and Japanese citizens, North Korea is ethnically homogeneous.
In North Korea, you attend school for free for 11 years. Afterwards, those who do not move onto the university level, either begin their military training (that includes men AND women; go equality!) or go to work on farm. During your final years of your compulsory education, you have to study Russian and English. (Who can say anything bad about their education system?)
Yes, North Koreans speak Korean (the same as South Koreans), but there are different dialects used.
How can you turn a two-letter word like “Hi!” into a word made out of 14 letters? It sounds like “g” is silent in “Anneyeonghaseyo!”
Aside from learning various languages, most school offer daily classes during which soccer, basketball, table tennis, gymnastics, boxing, and other sports are practiced.
While freedom of religion is provided to all citizens, religion is highly controlled. (Whatever that really means.) Officially, North Korea is an atheist state.
North Korea values loyalty and uses that to classify their citizens into more or less worthy of preferential treatment.
As previously mentioned – education is free in North Korea. So is healthcare. Food and housing is heavily subsidized by the state. Taxes have not been collected since the 70s. Sounds like a dream to most Americans. Want to go?
The biggest industries include machine building, military equipment manufacturing, and mining (iron ore and coal). Surprisingly, tourism is a sector that has been growing the past few years. C’mon, y’all, go and visit my site!
What is not so great is their electricity. North Koreans suffer a lot of power outages due to the state their grid is in. But that is good for the environment. No?
Bicycles are more popular than cars because roads are in very poor conditions. (That is what not paying taxes will get you.)
Have you ever complained about dating being difficult in today’s day and age? Take a look at the below video to see that… it could be worse.
(Thank you to Dr. Universe for introducing me to The Intrographics Show.)
In North Korea, the year is not 2020 but 108, since that is how long it has been since it’s first leader’s birthday (1912).
Do you know what time it is right now in North Korea? No, it’s not this many hours forward or back. They established their own time zone a few years back and are 30 minutes behind South Korea and Japan.
Have you ever thought that some criminals are not punished enough for their transgressions? In North Korea, their whole family for three generations is held accountable and pays for the sins.
(If you speak Korean and would like to share an audio with me, please contact me. I would love to add sound to this and give you a deserved shout-out.)
If you have ever visited North Korea, please share your experience with me. If you plan on visiting in the future, please remember to log in to WordPress and check out my site while you are there.
Would you be able to live in a place that does not have free Internet access?
Would you be able to live without your cell phone? Or use it for calling only?
Do you think it is good or bad that North Koreans are so detached from the outside world?
And this concludes our trip to North Korea. Check back in next month to see where the wind takes us.
황금을 유지 [written]
Hwang-geum-eul yuji! [pronounced] (The only pronunciation tip I can share with you is that “w” is silent.)
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