North Korea is a mythical country. Due to the lack of information about this nation, many beliefs have arisen, many of them unfounded.
We decided to discover what prohibitions and restrictions are in force in the most closed country in the world and many of them surprised us.
15. Forbidden to wear blue jeans
If you can afford to buy a pair of denim pants, nobody will forbid you to wear it. The only detail is that jeans here only exist in black because blue jeans are banned: it is believed that these pants so prevalent in the world symbolize imperialism. Tourists can wear blue jeans, but if they want to visit the monuments of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, they have to change clothes.
14. No Internet or Wi-Fi access
The North Korean operating system “The Red Star” (Red Star)
In North Korea, there are computers and the Internet. Rather, intranet: the internal computer network “Kwangmyong,” which has from 1000 to 5500 web pages. Of course, using the websites of other countries is completely unthinkable, unless you are an important official. By the way, the latest version of the local operating system “The Red Star” looks like MacOS X. They say this was done to please Kim Jong-un, who loves Apple’s production.
Wi-Fi in North Korea does not exist. The locals also do not have mobile devices to connect to “Kwangmyong.” Also, in the Chinese tablets adapted for North Korea the Wi-Fi and Bluetooth modules are removed, because they are not necessary.
13. The local currency is not available for foreigners
Tourists visiting North Korea are prohibited from using the national currency: the North Korean won. In local shops for foreigners, you pay only in euros, yuan; South Korean won and, oddly enough, US dollars. But buying something in a store where the North Koreans buy themselves is impossible: foreigners can not even enter there.
12. In North Korea, you can not buy real estate
View of the Mansudae housing complex, built for the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il-sung and the unfinished hotel “Ryugyong.”
The departments in North Korea are not sold (at least not officially) and are distributed by the government. Moving from a small town to Pyongyang is almost impossible: a few elect have this privilege and only by individual merit. Although in the black market, it seems that today entered all spheres of life in this country, you can get an apartment for 70 to 90 US dollars. The only detail is that the official salary of an ordinary citizen, according to North Korean refugees, does not exceed $ 4 per month.
11. Getting a car is almost impossible
In North Korea, the owner of a private car is a very rich or influential person. The cost of a vehicle of this type costs a fortune for Koreans: according to this website, it is equal to approximately 40 thousand dollars. Not even bicycles are available to everyone, and they do not meet very often, especially if we talk about any other city other than Pyongyang. Each bike has its license plate, just like a car.
10. You can not rent a newspaper that left some years ago in a library
Newspapers in one of the subway stations in Pyongyang.
Finding a newspaper in a library that came out a few years ago is impossible. What happens is that the policy of the Korean Labor Party may be changing and the North Korean people do not need to know about this. There is no point mentioning foreign newspapers, especially fashion magazines. But instead, you don’t have to buy the paper, because you can read it on the individual posts on the street or the subway.
9. You cant purchase religious literature
The interior of a Catholic church in Pyongyang.
North Korea is a 100% secular country. No, religion here is not prohibited. At least, not at the legislative level. Moreover, in Pyongyang, there are Christian churches, but they are under the strict supervision of the government.
On the other hand, Christianity, for example, is considered a rival to the “religion” Juche, so it is not welcome. In this country, there are also Buddhist temples, but they are only considered historical or cultural monuments.
8. You cant call abroad using the local SIM
Mobile phones in North Korea, 2012.
Mobile phones ceased to be a rarity in North Korea. However, even though the cellular network does exist, calling another country or a foreigner in this country is an impossible task for a typical Korean. Local SIMs are only used to make calls within the state. Just in case.
7. You cant take a hot shower
There is no central heating even in the Mangyongdae Children’s Palace.
The houses of the North Koreans don’t have hot water: to bathe; they usually go to the saunas, which in this country are many. Also, there is no central heating. For these purposes, the stoves are used. Even in Pyongyang.
Some might say that it is not the only Asian country without central heating. However, electric heaters are used elsewhere in the world, while in North Korea, as we all know, even electricity from the capital is supplied with irregularities.
6. In stores, it is impossible to buy Coca-Cola
Until 2015 in the world there were only two countries where there was officially a ban on selling this soft drink: Cuba and North Korea. After the sale of the bottle was allowed on the Island of Liberty, the northern part of the Korean peninsula became the only place in the world where it does not exist in shops solely for ideological reasons.
5. It is impossible to travel to another country
Flight schedules at the Pyongyang International Airport.
The people of North Korea cannot buy a plane ticket and go on vacation to some other country. Not only because it is an expensive pleasure, but also because this is forbidden.
Although the prohibition also applies to the free movement within the country: to visit relatives who live in some other town you have to ask for permission. But sometimes Koreans do travel abroad: to China or Russia, but only to earn money.
4. In North Korea, there is no McDonald’s
In North Korea, for entirely understandable reasons, there is no such network of fast food restaurants. But, for a while, in the streets of Pyongyang, you can find street food stalls where they sell traditional Korean food, among other things the famous kimchi. They say it is delicious and spicy.
3. Foreigners can not take pictures or talk to local people without permission
A very rare photo: the border between North Korea and South Korea.
Of course, despite popular belief, North Korea does not imprison or shoot anyone for speaking to a foreigner. However, in case of similar contact, the “guilty” will have to go through an unpleasant conversation with the intelligence services. If you try to talk to a passer-by or take a picture, it is most likely to run away.
In North Korea, you can not photograph everything you want: the guide that accompanies all foreigners will not allow you to do so.
2. It is almost impossible to buy condoms and personal hygiene items
It’s hard to believe, but many North Koreans don’t even know there are condoms. A few decades ago these objects appeared on the black market. However, due to the reason above, they never became popular. Now it is almost painful to buy them inside the country, just because there is no demand.
Also, objects as intimate as conventional tampons that are sold all over the world, in Korean stores are a rarity: at least in those that buy for local inhabitants. As strange as it may seem today, women here are forced to wear an ugly cloth, and it is not even disposable.
1. It is doubtful that you will get a creative haircut in North Korea
Types of hairstyles in one of the hairdressers of Pyongyang.
In the local hairdressers, there are photos of the haircuts recommended for men and women. On the other hand, the most fashionable cut is considered the same one that is being used by the country’s leader Kim Jong-Un. The success among the women is the chin that reaches the chin, a style that was also imposed by Kim Jong-Un, who once said that this hairstyle fit the Korean ladies very well.
Bonus: North Korea’s radio
The radio in one of the hotels of Pyongyang, 2013.
In North Korea, there are several TV and radio channels that broadcast programs, films, plays and much more. Although all of them are politicized to some extent, they are related to the situation in the country and praise the three Kims.