We’ve all gotten used to living in a democracy. We enjoy the freedom our country affords us. In fact, we don’t think much about the privileges we’ve gotten to enjoy. Then, we watch something on the news – an escapee from North Korea. Little is known about the country, aside from the fact that it has recently made amends with South Korea. And of course, it’s also ruled by an extremely strict communist leader named Kim Jong-Un. This young dictator has enjoyed having the in just about everything. And we may have heard about how difficult life is there, but we don’t give much thought about the things that are banned in North Korea. If we all knew, we’d be flabbergasted.
Here’s a list of the activities people everywhere else enjoy, but not the citizens of the communist nation.
The nation has been brought into focus because of its recent strides with nuclear weaponry. Kim Jong-Un was, in fact, photographed recently in a lavish celebration as he took pleasure in the fact that they were able to a hydrogen bomb. He performed tests despite the sanctions given by the heads of the United Nations. It seemed as if he is unaffected by what the other countries have spoken against.
What People Know
For those who are trying to learn about more about North Korea, they see the nation as one of the last Stalinist regimes. They are hell bent on being a recluse and isolating themselves from the rest of the world. Traveling there is almost next to impossible. That’s because they refuse to be reliant on anyone else. They relish in their ability to function independently. But behind the displays of pomp and grandeur is a country that’s impoverished, with thousands of citizens denied of their usual rights.
Thousands of refugees attempt to defect the country. They face harsh punishments for simple acts, something we commit everyday, and something we never consider as an act against the law. That’s because North Korea is riddled with the most ridiculous rules that ban its citizens from doing things we consider very mundane.
You aren’t allowed to have your own opinion. In fact, you must agree with the government at all times. The masses must think alike, act alike, and follow what the leader says is right. You can’t think for yourself. In fact, try to do so and you’ll find yourself in deep trouble. You could even end up in jail, not just for a night, but for years at a time.
No Outside Calls
Just imagine how many people miss their family members who live in North Korea. While most of us enjoy calling our friends who live across the pond, the citizens there are banned from making outside calls. Long distance phone conversations are a no-no. The punishment for calling people outside is death.
Punk, pop, rock, RnB – name it and we have it on the phone. However, the only songs the North Koreans are allowed to enjoy are those whose lyrics glorify the regime. Simply put, no outside music that risks opening your mind and making you aware of what the world thinks. Citizens have been executed simply by listening to outside hits and tunes that weren’t written by their fellow countrymen.
Androids and iPhones? No way. These gadgets allow you access to music and the outside world. Besides, North Korea wants to think that the folks don’t need to call anyone else. Plus, the people they need live within the country. Basically, electronics from the western world, including cellular phones, aren’t needed at all.
No Bad Mouthing the Leader
Kim Jong-Un can do no wrong, or at least that’s what he wants them to believe. Don’t say anything against him…ever. And nobody has dared. At least not out loud. He rules by fear and with an iron fist, and all he wants to hear from his people are compliments. Otherwise, death will come to them swiftly and surely.
No Taking Down Posters
North Korean government loves to put up state propaganda posters all over. These have been used to spread information and promote the government, and because the country rules under the assumption that the people have no say in anything, the posters are to be left as they are. If anyone messes with it, then he or she better get ready of years of hard and intense labor.
No Calling the Country North Korea
To the rest of the world, the country is known as North Korea. Citizens, however, aren’t allowed to call it by the name we all know. The nation sees itself as the only true Korea and should therefore be called Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. And for the visitors, they should call it by such.
No Moving Around
Check out other countries. On the average, a family owns two cars. Things are obviously different for North Koreans. There is about less than one vehicle for 1,000 people. That’s because nobody can freely go anywhere. Movement from one place to another needs special permission. They expect their citizens to simply stay where they are.
Surprisingly, North Korea does get a few tourists. These are comprised of people with a lot of guts, gumption, and courage. They may be brave, but they can’t do the tourist-y stuff. No pictures just everywhere. In fact, cameras are banned in a lot of places. You’re probably safest with a selfie in your own hotel room, in the toilet.
We all appreciate dry humor from time to time. We also like sarcasm. We find people who deliver those lines funny. That’s because we all know how to read between the lines. However, this is restricted in the communist country. That’s because what you say is taken at face value. It’s basically about saying what you mean and meaning what you say. Quite simple.
No Talking Bad Against the Government
Kim Jong-Un is the government, and because you can’t talk smack about him, the same rule applies to the government. Say one bad word against them and you’ll find yourself thrown into camp, being re-educated and doing hard labor. It’s basically about showing respect and worshipping the government because this is the end-all and be-all of existence.
This is a country for sober individuals. This would be perfect for those who are trying to stay away from alcohol. While drinking isn’t entirely prohibited, there are days assigned for alcohol. A man was once caught with a bottle while the whole country was supposed to be mourning for Kim Jong Il’s death. He was executed with a mortar not long after.
No Birthday Questions
It’s unclear when exactly Kim Jong-Un was born, which is actually very strange considering how much the country respected his father and then him. But whatever the case may be, no one is allowed to ask when his birthday year is. Don’t dare even hint the question.
Just like what The Eagles said when they sang Hotel California, “You can check in anytime you like, but you can never leave.” The same thing goes for North Koreans. If they are caught leaving the country, they’re forced to come back only to be executed. But that’s not all; they’re also putting their family’s lives in danger as well. The rule applies to family members of defectors.
Men and women must follow a norm, not just for dressing, but also for hairstyles. There are 28 government approved haircuts, which may answer your question: why do they look alike? Anyone who strays from it will find themselves in hot water, which no one really wants to be in.
No Living Anywhere They Want
The citizens aren’t allowed to leave the country, but their living conditions within North Korea are dictated as well. Pyonyang, the nation’s capital, houses some of the most illustrious and moneyed citizens. The rich comprise a very miniscule portion of the population. The rest, however, need to live elsewhere. They need permission, approval, and tons of connections in order to live in the city’s capital.
No Religion Too
John Lennon must have thought of North Korea when he sang Imagine. This is an atheist state and no one is allowed to worship any deity. In 2013, 80 Christians were discovered holding their bibles. Because they went against government mandate, they were publicly executed. This was the country’s way of showing how serious they were about the practice of devotion. If they had to put their faith into someone, it should be their president.
Pornography is frowned upon, not just in North Korea, but in a lot of other countries as well. Nonetheless, this Asian nation takes it more seriously. Kim Jung-Un’s ex-girlfriend was once caught making a sex tape. She wasn’t spared. He had her executed right in front of her family.
This rule actually makes sense. Since the citizens prohibited from contact to the outside world, it only follows that the internet is banned as well. While they can surf the web, this is only limited to state approved pages. Those who try to get past the firewall will find themselves in…well, you already know what follows.
Having a pair of denims is a staple in anyone’s outfit. It’s something we all throw in practically every single day. North Koreans, on the other hand, don’t owe a pair at all. They don’t have denims in their closet. That’s because jeans are associated with the US, the nation’s enemy. So, they say no to the blues.
No to Detachment
Ironically, voting is a must in North Korea. Unlike some countries, the people don’t have the right to choose who they can vote for. One name is placed on the ballot. If you ever get away from the mandatory, you just might find yourself in deep trouble. Your health will certainly be on the line if you don’t go with the state’s dictate.
It’s so easy to get thrown in jail. You just sneeze the wrong way and the authorities won’t hesitate to cuff you and throw you behind bars. And once you’re in custody, you can’t dare escape. While prison break is illegal in all countries, North Korea takes this a step further to scare their prisoners. The family of the accused will also pay the price. The four generations of the clan will also be punished.
Just try to go to North Korea. You’ll find that there are only a few channels to choose from. Its citizens can only view state propaganda. South Korea TV has a lot of interesting shows but these are banned. If you try to tap into their channel, you’ll find yourself under fire, and if you’re unlucky, you just might be executed.
As discussed previously, foreign propaganda is banned from North Korea. It’s a matter of loving your own. If you find yourself with a book that’s produced internationally, then you can expect problems. Even travel guides are banned from the country. You should only have something that’s produced for North Koreans.
Nobody is perfect. Even seasoned writers worth their salt can commit an error. A journalist once attempted to make an article about North Korea. He didn’t notice the typo. However, the government did and immediately accosted him for it. He was eventually executed. A simple typo can mean the end of your life.
At the end of the day, we should be grateful for what we have. We live in a true democracy where freedom of speech and choice is a right. The citizens of North Korea don’t experience these little perks that we wake up to every single day. The people follow a strict set of rules that they can’t stray from. This is the truth they all grew up with. Yes, we live in an imperfect world, but at this point, this is perfectly fine because we still are afforded with the benefits that the citizens of the said nation don’t have.