8. Hot showers
Taking a proper hot shower is nigh impossible in North Korea. Instead, people will opt to visit a bathhouse. Whether it’s capital city Pyongyang or a rural town: houses are generally heated through wood stoves and you shouldn’t expect any kind of warm tap water.
9. Calls within borders
Mobile phones are becoming more and more common in North Korea. However, these phones have a particular restriction in place: they’ll only work for calls within the country. All calls to number outside of North Korea have been blocked. This allows the regime to maintain an iron grip on its population.
10. Keep religion out
Buddhist temples in North Korea mainly serve as historic and cultural artefacts. Expressions of Christianity are few and far between. Religion isn’t forbidden per se, but Christianity is often considered a challenge of North Korea’s national ideology. Some religious villages do exist, but they’re under constant scrutiny by the government and are very hard to find.
11. No readily available newspapers
Any news media in North Korea are strictly controlled by the government. Newspapers of years gone by are hard to find in libraries. This is in case the ruling communist party changes its ideas – getting rid of old news will make it harder to find any reports on previous situations. Of course, foreign newspapers aren’t available at all.
12. A license plate for your bicycle
Cars are an uncommon sight in North Korea. They’re a luxury only the richest elite can afford. Similarly, bikes are also very expensive, and you’ll have great difficulty in finding any outside of Pyongyang. On top of that, each bike has to be registered and fitted with a license plate. This allows the government to even maintain control over its population’s bicycles.
13. Appointed housing
Buying or renting an appartement in North Korea is unlike anything you’re probably used to. The housing market in North Korea is void of any free market mechanisms. You’ll simply have to hope the government appoints you a house that’s to your liking. And if not: tough luck.
14. North Korean ‘internet’
The internet is a source for almost anything you could wish for. Of course, this means it’s a threat to North Korea’s dictatorial regime. Access to the internet as we know it is therefore strictly forbidden. There is an alternative internet, but it’s nothing like the internet you and I are used to, as it is a specific network set up and maintained within North Korea. It’s called ‘Kwamyong’, and according to estimations, it contains about a thousand to five thousand websites. Only information in line with the ruling party can be found here.
15. Blue jeans
It’s such a small thing and you probably won’t even stop to think about it, yet the colour of your jeans matters in North Korea. According to those in power, blue jeans are a symbol of western influence. If you happen to visit the country as a foreign tourist, you might get away with it – to an extent. If you’re planning on visiting the monuments for the deceased leaders Kim Il-Sung and his son Kim Jong-Il, you’re expected to wear something other than blue jeans. You know, as a sign of respect.
Visiting North Korea?
In short: freedom barely exists in North Korea. Even outside of the lockdown that’s essentially grounded international flights everywhere, the country would be a tough choice for tourists. Would you dare to go visit with all these rules?
Source: Brightside | Image: Unsplash