Lately the tiny country of North Korea has made some very big headlines here in America. But most of us don't know much about the country or its strange customs.
Here are 15 of the weirdest facts about North Korea and its laws:
1. They built a fake city
After North and South Korea split, the small communist country built a city called Kijong-Dong (or Peace Village) along the border, but it wasn't like any other city on earth. Kijong-Dong was a total fake, with no residents and buildings that had no glass in the windows.
Street sweepers and actors would even move around the streets on a circuit to convince South Korea that the city was bustling, but nobody believed the ruse for long.
The phony city also includes the world's biggest flagpole, topped by a 300 pound North Korean flag.
2. It's not 2017 in North Korea
The date in North Korea is counted beginning on the birthday of their first leader, Kim Il-Sung. That means North Koreans are living in the year 105.
3. Their space program could use some work
While the country's missile tests always make the news, they also have a satellite program that gets less attention. Only 2 of North Korea's 5 satellite launches were successful, although they insist their first one worked like a charm. So what are these satellites doing? Broadcasting patriotic songs into space, according to the regime.
4. Most drugs are legal there
Surprisingly, the North Korean government actually encourages farmers to grow opium on their unused land, which is sold to other countries. Marijuana is also legal, and is said to be so common that it grows on the side of the road.
Meanwhile, in North Korea a bad hair day could be criminal.
5. The fashion police are real
North Korean society is very strict when it comes to clothes: not only are citizens required to wear formal and plain outfits, they also need to have a government-approved hairstyle. There are only 28 legal cuts in North Korea, 10 for men and 18 for women.
6. Portraits of the leaders are everywhere
Every home and public building in the country has to have portraits of North Korea's 3 "Eternal Presidents" hanging up. That includes the current ruler Kim Jong-Un, his father Kim Jong-Il and his grandfather Kim Il-Sung.
The pictures are also required to be cleaned daily, and it's said that homes are regularly inspected to see if the leaders' frames are dusty.
7. The world's largest stadium is in North Korea
Called the Rungnado May Day stadium, the huge event center is used to hold "Mass Games" where athletes show off for foreign guests. The audience gets involved too, with some stunning flash mob-style performances:
8. Their teachers can carry a tune
As recently as the 1990s, it was required that all North Korean teachers learn to play the accordion.
9. Don't order a soda
North Korea and Cuba are the only two countries where you can't (officially) buy a can of Coke. Although soda does trickle into the country from China, tourists say the drinks are clearly counterfeits, and sometimes taste more like chocolate than soda.
10. "Three generation punishment"
North Korea takes crimes against the regime very seriously, and goes to great lengths to punish citizens who step out of line. For criticizing the government or trying to escape the country, "three generation punishments" are sometimes handed out.
These sentences apply to the person in question, their children, and their children as well.
11. There's not much traffic
Driving is reserved for the very elite of North Korean society, and while the country has highways they're mostly deserted. There are other restrictions too: citizens can't make any international calls without government permission.
12. Kim Jong-Il was a great golfer (or so he said)
North Korea's leaders make a lot of big claims about their abilities that are pretty hard to swallow. Kim Jong-Il supposedly wrote 1,500 books, and 6 operas. He also claimed to have shot 11 hole-in-ones during his first golf game ever. Yeah right!
13. There are elections
Yes, North Korea is a dictatorship but there are elections every 5 years...with the country's leader as the only candidate. And of course, voting is mandatory for all citizens. I wonder who Kim voted for...
14. They're the 2nd happiest country (or so they say)
This year's World Happiness Report lists Norway as the world's cheeriest country, followed by Denmark and Iceland. But in 2011 North Korea published their own Global Happiness Index and the results were a little different.
Their report claimed China was the world's happiest country, and North Korea was in 2nd place. As for America? The very bottom of the list. Go figure.
15. They've been attacked with pop music
Lots of countries have disputes over borders, but none are settled quite like this. To get back at North Korea for nuclear tests or other bad behavior, the South is known to blast Korean pop music at high volume as a form of punishment.
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