(Last updated on: 15/10/2022)
North Korea is one of the most mysterious countries in the world. and there are so many facts about North Korea that will astound you!
North Korea is full of majestic mountains, beautiful hills, and picturesque valleys. With 80% of North Korea covered by mountains and uplands, tourists often get surprised to see its eye-catching beauty and hiking options.
The country is known as the “Hermit Kingdom” since it is the world’s most culturally and economically isolated country. Compared to South Korea, there isn’t much known about this secretive country as the state strictly regulates the information that gets in and out of the country.
If you are also planning a trip to North Korea anytime soon or if you are just interested to learn some facts about North Korea, then you have come to the right place! North Korea has many secrets and facts that you probably don’t know… are you ready to learn about some of the most amazing facts about North Korea? Keep scrolling….
- North Koreans Believe Korea Is A Single Country
- Rungrado Stadium – The Largest Stadium
- Mount Paektu – Highest Mountains
- World’s only Country Ruled By Dead Leader
- Pyongyang – Only For Upper Class
- Healthcare Is Free
- Large Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
- Home To Brilliant Athletes
- Rollerblading Is Quite Famous
- North Koreans Are Shorter Than South Koreans
- Tourists Are only Allowed To Visit Selective Areas
- Tourists Can’t Use Local Currency Of North Korea
- Permission Required To Talk To Locals
- Informants Are Present In Every Nook & Corner
- One of the Largest Military Forces
- The Body Of Kim Jong-Il Is Still Preserved
- North Korea Has Its Own Basketball Rules
- Human Feces As Fertilizers
- Big Seafood Exports
- Residents Are Not Bound To Pay Taxes
- North Korea Had Its Own Time Zone
- North Korean Calendar Is Different
- 51 Social Categories
- Citizens Can’t Be Named After North Korean Leaders
- Propaganda Village
- North Koreans Can Only Browse 28 Websites
- Just 15 Haircuts Are Allowed
- Three Generations Punishment Rule
- Wearing Blue Jeans Is Illegal
- Only Three Television Channels Allowed
- Foreign Music Is Banned
- North Korean Roads Aren’t Paved
- Rich In Mineral Resources
- Military Service Is Necessary
North Koreans Believe Korea Is A Single Country
One of the most interesting facts about North Korea is that North Koreans still don’t believe Korea has been divided into two states. For them, South Korea does not exist at all, and their country is only Korea out there. Even the maps at their schools show Korea as a single state, with Pyongyang the capital. But in reality, it is not true. You will see both North and South Korea on the world’s map.
Rungrado Stadium – The Largest Stadium
Well, you will be surprised to know that Korea’s national stadium is the largest in the world, with a seating capacity of approximately 114,000 spectators. Formerly it was known as May Day Stadium.
Since its inauguration, it has hosted multiple high-profile events, e.g. World Festival of Youth and Students. Although the stadium is multi-purpose, it is usually used for football matches.
Mount Paektu – Highest Mountains
When it comes to the most beautiful mountain in Korea, Mount Paektu tops the list. Paektu, or “White Head Mountain ”, is a stratovolcano located at the North Korean – Chinese border. At an elevation of 2750 m, it is the tallest mountain in the Korean Peninsula, Baekdudaegan ranges, and Changbai.
Mt. Paektu is accessible only from May to September. Also, tourists can hike the mountain to enjoy the awe-inspiring view of the lake “Lake Chon” at the top.
World’s only Country Ruled By Dead Leader
Yes, you have heard right! North Korea is the world’s only existing necrocracy. A necrocracy is a government that the former dead leader rules. Kim Il-sung was the founder and supreme leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea from its establishment in 1945 until his death. After he died, he was announced as the “Eternal Leader of North Korea (DPRK).”
Pyongyang – Only For Upper Class
Pyongyang, North Korea’s capital, has quite different and high living standards compared to other cities. Life here is exceptionally better compared to the rest of the country. The city is full of party loyalists and trustworthy high-social status citizens.
No one can live in the capital without permission. The government decides whether someone is worthy enough to live in Pyongyang. This is one of my least favourite facts about North Korea.
Healthcare Is Free
One of the most amazing facts about North Korea is that it never compromises its citizens’ health. According to the National Social Insurance Law of 1947, North Korea has introduced a comprehensive free healthcare system for farmers, office workers, labourers, and their families.
Large Demilitarized Zone (DMZ)
This is one of the most known facts about North Korea- There is a 250m long demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. It is said to be the world’s most guarded and highly militarized area. It is a buffer zone with a meeting point, the Joint Security Area (JSA), where military negotiation takes place, and the forces of both nations stand face-to-face.
Home To Brilliant Athletes
It might be a fact that most people are unaware of, but North Korea has many incredible athletes. Since 1972, the country has won multiple medals in wrestling, judo, and weight lifting. So far, they own 24 bronze medals, 17 silver medals, and 16 gold medals.
Rollerblading Is Quite Famous
In North Korea, rollerblading is pretty much popular. Therefore, you will see numerous rollerblading and skating rinks in its capital Pyongyang and other cities. It is something North Koreans love to do.
North Koreans Are Shorter Than South Koreans
Here comes one of the most surprising facts about North Korea- According to research, North Koreans born after the 1952’s Korean War are on average 1.2 -3.1 inches shorter than South Koreans. Food shortage and malnutrition is thought to be the main factor behind this reason.
Tourists Are only Allowed To Visit Selective Areas
If you plan a trip to North Korea, I suggest you register for a guided tour. It is because there are only particular areas and cities where the tourist can visit. Also, tourists are not allowed to take photos everywhere.
In the past, Pyongyang was also restricted for tours, but recently, few changes have been done to promote tourism. However, there is a town called “Lou” in North Korea where tourists are free to take photographs and explore.
Tourists Can’t Use Local Currency Of North Korea
It is another important fact about North Korea that every foreigner should be familiar with. So, keeping dollars in your wallet while on your North Korea trip is wise. Tourists can buy from local shops by paying in Euro, US Dollars, South Korean Won and Yuan, etc.
Permission Required To Talk To Locals
Being a tourist or foreigner, you may put locals in trouble if you try to talk to them. Although they will not get a punishment for having a conversation, they need to answer to the higher authorities for that. So, there is plenty of chance that they will instantly run away if you try to talk to locals. This is one of the facts about North Korea that most people do not know!
Informants Are Present In Every Nook & Corner
In North Korea, government informants are present almost everywhere. They constantly monitor and report any criminal act or violation of the government rules. Also, punishment varies from unauthorized TV or Internet access to haircut violations.
One of the Largest Military Forces
It is no surprise that North Korea has the fourth largest standing army in the world, with more than 1.2 million army personnel. Moreover, it also owns many biological and chemical arsenal.
The Body Of Kim Jong-Il Is Still Preserved
North Korea has preserved the dead body of their late leader Kim Jong-Il in a glass door. The embalmed body is present in a room of Kumsusan Memorial Palace. This place is open for both the locals and tourists.
North Korea Has Its Own Basketball Rules
Basketball is very famous in North Korea. But as compared to the rest of the world, North Koreans have their own set of basketball rules. For example, a basketball match can end in a tie, dunks are worth three points, and for any field goal made in the last 3 seconds of the match, there are 8 points for that, etc. I think that this is one of the most interesting facts about North Korea!
Human Feces As Fertilizers
Due to poverty and resource shortfall, North Korean farmers lack enough fertilizer for crops. The state encourages citizens to use poop as fertilizer to overcome the shortage. However, it is risky as it may increase the risk of diseases. This is certainly one of the most shocking facts about North Korea.
Big Seafood Exports
North Korea’s main trading partner is China. As of 2020, it has exported goods worth $44.1M to its neighboring country China. Among these goods, seafood and fish were the main exports. Also, North Korea is among the top countries exporting fishery products.
Residents Are Not Bound To Pay Taxes
A surprising fact about North Korea is that it does not enforce taxes on its citizens. In 1974, the country eliminated taxation. However, the organizations and companies making money outside North Korea’s periphery are still bound to pay taxes.
North Korea Had Its Own Time Zone
On August 15, 2015, North Korea implemented their time zone, “Pyongyang time”, by setting their clocks half an hour before. However, in April 2018, they put their clocks forward half an hour again, the same as South Korea’s. It was a movement taken towards the unity of both nations.
North Korean Calendar Is Different
The North Korean calendar starts from April 1912 with the date of birth of their leader Kim II-Sung. So, while we are living in the year 2022, for North Koreans, it is still 110 Juche year.
51 Social Categories
Have you ever heard of a country categorising its citizens based on their loyalty to the state? Well, North Korea is the one. So, if you are an extremely loyal resident, you will rank in the top social category.
Citizens Can’t Be Named After North Korean Leaders
North Koreans are forbidden to name their kids after their supreme leader. And if someone already has that name before the acquisition of power, the name must is urgently replaced.
Children Have To Arrange Their School Accessories
In most countries, schools are responsible for providing all the important stuff to children, e.g. books, stationery, chairs, desks, etc. But North Korea has an entirely different case. School children have to provide their desks and chairs. Even they have to pay for heating fuel.
Propaganda Village, also known as “Peace Village”, was built in 1950 by the North Korean government near the border of South Korea. The village had big buildings and electricity, which was luxurious then. It was only the North Korean way of boasting of their economic success to their southern neighbors
However, later when some South Koreans observed the village closely, they were shocked to know the reality. The village was just a sham; no one lived there, and houses were mere boxes with no ceilings, floors, or walls.
North Koreans Can Only Browse 28 Websites
It may sound weird, but yes, people in North Korea can only browse a limited number of websites, i.e. 28. Internet access is free for people who have computers. However, computers are expensive there, and one must get permission from the government before buying one.
Just 15 Haircuts Are Allowed
One of the craziest facts about North Korea is that the government approves only 15 haircuts for both men and women. Citizens have to choose from these hairstyles. Any other haircut not approved by the regime can lead to an arrest!
Three Generations Punishment Rule
The three-generation punishment policy is one of the most horrific facts about North Korea. If someone commits a crime or violates the law, his entire family, i.e. grandparents, parents, and children, will get the punishment.
Wearing Blue Jeans Is Illegal
You can’t wear blue jeans in North Korea as they depict United States imperialism. Also, the country is trying hard to reduce the western influence on its citizens and has banned piercing too.
Only Three Television Channels Allowed
With everything under strict regulation, it is obvious that North Korea also keeps tight control of its media. There are only three TV channels in North Korea that are state-owned. So, all the programs are monitored by the government.
Foreign Music Is Banned
People in North Korea can’t listen to foreign music. It is considered illegal to listen to music or artists not approved by the state. Only a few songs are allowed, and most of them promote their political leaders.
North Korean Roads Aren’t Paved
There are approximately 78,700 kilometres of roads present in North Korea, and only 800 kilometres are paved. The country has only less than 3% paved roads.
Rich In Mineral Resources
One more amazing fact about North Korea is that the country is highly rich in natural mineral resources. They possess most of the Peninsula’s minerals, including coal, ore deposits, copper, lead, high-grade iron, gold, phosphate rock, and silver.
Military Service Is Necessary
In North Korea, military service is obligatory both for men and women. According to the latest changes, males aged 18 years or above should serve at least 13 years in the military. Whereas females must join the military once they are done with their high school graduation.
Facts about North Korea- Final Thoughts
These are the 35 amazing facts about North Korea that you probably didn’t know. North Korea has so much for you to discover, from its remarkable history and unique customs to its mountainous beauty. The facts about North Korea mentioned above will not only prevent you from any trouble but will also help you to decide what to bring and what to not on your trip to North Korea.
Moreover, if you know some more intriguing facts about North Korea, feel free to share them in the comment section. Also, if you enjoyed this article, I am sure you will love these too-