15 bizarre forbidden and restricted things in North Korea

From blue jeans to hot water

The dictatorial state of North Korea mainly makes the news whenever they launch nuclear test missiles and/or propaganda. Want to know what goes on behind their strictly closed borders? Continue reading, as in this article we’ll tell you about 15 very particular rules in this Asian country!

1. Creative haircut? Didn’t think so!

Imagine the police picking you off the street because they feel your haircut doesn’t fit with government guidelines! In North Korea this is quite likely to happen. Hairdressers and barbers have to follow strict rules: men must have their hair cut above their ears. Women are recommended to get a bob cut down to their chin after Kim Jong Un praised the look.

2. Reusing menstrual products

Being on your period is unpleasant enough as is, but North Korea adds another layer of hassle to the entire experience. You see, Tampons, pads and panty liners are a rarity. Instead, pieces of regular old fabric are used for the same purpose, that are then washed and reused. However, there are exceptions to this rule…

3. Separated shopping for foreigners

…as there are separate stores for foreigners. Here you’ll find products that the general populace of North Korea will either find strange or forbidden. The opposite is true as well: tourists from outside of North Korea are not allowed to enter any stores meant for locals.

4. Pictures require permission

Even if you were to get permission to visit North Korea, don’t think you’ll be getting a generic touristic experience. Taking pictures is only allowed in specific locations, and making contact with the general Korean public is strictly prohibited. In North Korea you’ll have a guide by your side at all times, who will keep a close eye on you to make sure you’re sticking to the rules. If you’re caught taking any ‘forbidden’ pictures, your camera will be taken to erase said pictures, and you might get yourself in some very deep trouble.

5. No big brand fastfood chains

You won’t find any big multinationals such as McDonald’s, KFC or Burger King in North Korea. Instead, they take to promoting their own kitchen. A culinary staple is ‘kimchi’, which you’ll no doubt encounter were you to stay in the country. This is a type of fermented cabbage.

6. Travelling – no matter the scale

You’ll understand traveling is a luxury the dirt poor inhabitants of North Korea won’t be able to afford. The airport in Pyongyang is host to very few international flights. You’ll be able to make it to Russia and China, but no further than that. For the general population of North Korea, travel options within the country are severely limited as well. If you want to visit your family in a city a few miles away? You’ll have to get government permission first.

7. Coca-Cola strictly disallowed

The only place in the world where Coca Cola is strictly forbidden is North Korea. The well-known red cans are seen a symbol of the western culture North Korea loves to oppose.

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