The Hermit Kingdom is one of the strangest places on Earth, a walled-off socialist nightmare where Party officials live like kings and the rest of the population starves. With the latest round of North Korean sabre-rattling, we thought it might be time to explore some lesser-known facts about the country. Strap in, because it’s going to be a bumpy ride.
North Korea Has An Amusement Park
You wouldn’t think that a society of dirt-poor slaves would have much use for an amusement park, and – surprise – they don’t. The Mangyongdae Fun Fair was built in 1982 to provide Western-style carnival amusement to Party officials, and it’s now a rusting relic that lays vacant until foreigners come visit. The rides are in horrific disrepair, and engineers are called in to fix them on an “as needed” basis.
Safety tests are conducted by terrified North Korean farmers who are forced to ride on the collapsing, decrepit roller coasters and other entertainments. They also bus in civilians to make the park look busy when foreigners visit.
North Korea Once Had Unicorns
Well, according to North Korea. In November of 2012, archaeologists at the DPRK Academy of Social Sciences announced to the world that they’d finally discovered the lair of the unicorn ridden by the legendary King Tongmyung in Moran Hill, the center of the city of Pyongyang.
Amazingly enough, the hidden lair was clearly marked by a stone that had “Unicorn Lair” written on it. The ruling party proclaimed that this discovery cemented the fact that Pyongyang had been a capital city for the ancient Koreans as well. Actual unicorn remains were not found, and in fact the only “evidence” that the archaeologists discovered was the stone.
North Korea Has Underground Tunnels Into South Korea
Modern warfare is, for the most part, fought in the air. We’ve got drones and all kinds of crazy technology up there, and North Korea basically has a few old helicopters. They know they can’t step to us above the ground, so they’ve decided to do it down below.
Underground warfare is a North Korean specialty, and they’ve built dozens of subterranean bunkers where the elites will go when the action goes down. In addition, there are numerous rumors that DPRK soldiers have dug tunnels beneath the demilitarized zone into South Korea for easy access when the war starts.
The plan is for their highly-trained shock troops to burst out into enemy territory and take out civilian targets like fire stations, grocery stores and power plants.
North Korean Soldiers Killed Two Americans For Gardening
For all the talk of “Western aggression” that comes out of Pyongyang, history has shown that the North Korean army has been happy to engage in violence whenever they think they can get away with it. In 1976, a group of UN peacekeepers ventured into the DMZ to prune a poplar tree that was blocking sightlines between security checkpoints.
While they were working, a posse of 15 North Korean soldiers came and told them they needed to stop because Kim Il Sung had personally planted that tree. The pruning continued, and 20 more North Koreans showed up and attacked the unarmed work crew with axes and clubs, bludgeoning two to death.
Three days later, the U.S. and South Korea enacted “Operation Paul Bunyan,” where a huge military force went in and just cut the whole damn tree down with a chainsaw.
North Korea Has Its Own Internet
Of course, the people in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea can’t be allowed to access the degenerate capitalist Internet, so Kim Jong-Il and his cohorts wisely decided to make their own computer network.
Kwangmyong is a completely self-contained intranet controlled by the State, complete with e-mail and news websites. It’s free for use by any North Korean citizen, but the great majority of them have absolutely no access to computers. Of course, Kwangmyong is only accessible by dial-up.
North Korea Paid $15 For Its Website
To follow up that last entry, naturally North Korea has a website that the rest of the world can see. Located at korea-dpr.com, the Flash-powered website is designed to paint a pretty picture of life inside the Democratic People’s Republic, with lots of paintings of smiling citizens.
Unfortunately, the technological skill to make such a website doesn’t seem to exist in the country (and they didn’t have time to kidnap anybody to do it), so instead the site was built on a $15 template purchased from IgniteThemes. Even sadder, the poor shmucks responsible didn’t take the time to customize the template at all, and a Fordham University student exposed their cheapness to the world in 2012.
North Korean Basketball Has Crazy Rules
One thing about North Korea is that they’re convinced that they can do everything better than the rest of the world. So when new Supreme Leader Kim Jong-Un decided to take on the game of basketball, they made some changes.
North Korean basketball is designed to make the game more aggressive and fast-paced, so slam dunks are now worth three points, a three-point shot gets four points if it doesn’t hit the rim, and you lose a point if you miss a free throw.
This, naturally, encourages non-stop fouling on the court to get the worst shooters to the free throw line as much as possible. Oh, and for the last ten minutes of the game, the score for all shots are doubled.
North Korea Has 51 “Social Categories”
When you look at North Korea from the outside, you see three main sets of people: ruling Party elites, soldiers and subsistence farmers. It’s not that simple, though – reports from inside the DPRK tell that the populace is actually divided into a staggering 51 different groups, ranked by their loyalty to the regime.
The whole point of socialism is that everybody is equal and these distinctions shouldn’t exist, but North Korea isn’t really known for their strict adherence to rules. A full 27 of the groups are considered openly hostile to the DPRK government, mostly the nation’s poorest and most threatened citizens.
People aren’t allowed to know their personal category, but it’s recorded in the government file that follows every citizen from birth to death.
North Korea Has A Trap City
The North Korean narrative is all about how much better they are than the decadent capitalists to the South, and they want nothing more than to lure fresh meat over the border. So in the 1950s they built Kijong-dong, an uninhabited village visible from the DMZ border area.
The small town consists of a number of poured concrete buildings and, unlike most of North Korea, is wired for electricity. Unfortunately, upon closer inspection there are no people actually living there, the “homes” are empty shells, and the lights are on a timer.
Until 2004, Kijong-dong also broadcast messages via loudspeaker encouraging South Korean citizens to walk over the border. Needless to say, they weren’t very effective.
Next: Everything Is Barack Obama's Fault
North Korea Is One Of The World’s Largest Fresh Fruit Producers
You wouldn’t think that a nation as ravaged by famine as North Korea would be an agricultural exporter, but here we are. Multiple organizations have placed the DPRK in the top 10 nations in the world for fresh fruit production, but that bounty doesn’t trickle down into the mouths of its citizens.
Apples, peaches, nectarines and pears all grow exceptionally well on their collective farms. Almost everything grown in the country by the primarily agricultural population is packaged up to be sold for export, and the proceeds go right into the pockets of Kim Jong-Un and his cronies.