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15 Shocking Laws to Keep in Mind before Travelling to North Korea

North Korea has numerous weird laws for its citizens

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Sadaf Hasan
Sadaf Hasan
Aspiring reporter covering trending topics

NORTH KOREA: The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), also known as North Korea, is a country located in East Asia and is considered one of the most repressive nations in the world.

Ruled by supreme leader Kim Jong-un, this totalitarian nation takes away fundamental rights and imposes strange laws on citizens. Even though this country is closed to ordinary visitors and it’s very unlikely to even see a picture from there on social platforms, sometimes fascinating information about it does get out. 

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Life in North Korea is highly restricted, with limited access to information, movement, and freedom of speech, as the government strictly controls every sphere of society, including the economy, media, and political system.

Despite all the challenges, North Korea has made some progress in fields such as education and health care, but the nation’s human rights record remains a major concern for the international community.

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Some of the weird laws of North Korea

No foreign music or movies are allowed

North Koreans are not allowed to listen to foreign music or watch foreign movies, as both are considered criminal activities. In 2015, the country’s dictator, Kim Jong-un, decreed to destroy all cassette tapes and CDs that contained songs that the state had outlawed.

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The sentence depends on the location of the film’s origin: watching an American movie could result in execution, while watching an Indian movie could result in imprisonment. Furthermore, the distribution of porn could lead to the death penalty.

In North Korea, there are only three TV channels, and the government controls all of the content. Two of these stations are only available on weekends, while the other airs in the evenings. So no Taylor Swift for these people, unless she is singing how great Kim Jong-un is.

International calls are crime

Making international calls is considered a crime in North Korea, so local citizens cannot make international calls or even to a foreigner in the country. All local SIM cards only allow calls within the nation.

In 2007, a North Korean factory owner was executed by firing squad in front of 150,000 spectators after being charged with making international calls on 13 phones that he installed in a factory basement.

Blue jeans are forbidden

In North Korea, you can wear jeans if you can afford them, but the colour of the denim should be black, as blue jeans are not allowed because they are considered to embody imperialism. However, if you are a visitor, no one will speak to you and you won’t need to change to enter the Kim II Sung and Kim Jong II memorials.

Falling asleep during meeting with dictator is forbidden

It is regarded as a sign of disloyalty towards Kim Jong-un to nod off during a meeting, which could result in the death penalty. Hyon Yong-chol, North Korea’s defence minister, reportedly fell unconscious in front of Kim Jong-un in 2015, which led to his assassination by anti-aircraft fire in front of 100 people.

No WiFi access

North Korea has a portal to state-run propaganda, not the world wide web. Nevertheless, it is more of an intranet named “Kwangmyong,” not quite the internet. All foreign websites are blocked, and if you are not a high-ranking person, you will never be permitted to access them.

In its most recent version, the native operating system “Red Star” has a MacOS X-like feel to it. They say that it was done because of Kim Jong-un’s fondness for Apple products.

Wi-Fi is basically nonexistent. “Kwangmyong” is not even accessible on mobile devices. Chinese tablets made for North Korea don’t have Wi-Fi and Bluetooth components. They are just not required.

Bible is Ban

The Bible is seen as a representation of Western culture and is therefore forbidden because it can transform people. Although North Korea claims to have “freedom of religious belief,” thousands have been tormented for doing so.

One Christian woman who was handing out Bibles was detained and killed. An American tourist in North Korea in 2014 named Jeffrey Fowle was detained and held for five months after he left his Bible in the restroom of an eatery at the Chongjin Sailor’s Club.

No creative hair cut

If you need a haircut, make sure to pick one of the 28 hairstyles that the government has approved. You heard correctly! All men and women in North Korea are required to wear one of the 28 official hairstyles that the government has authorised, as all other hairstyles are forbidden in the nation.

The government considers spiked hair to be defiant, so it is strictly prohibited. Kim Jong-Un, the leader of North Korea, introduced the legislation in 2013, but he did not include his own hairstyle in order to keep it distinctive.

Insults to dictator Kim and his family are considered blasphemy

Under Kim Jong-un’s rule, every North Korean must pledge allegiance and obedience to him, his family, and the government. Any act that could be a discernible affront to the Kim family by the North Korean administration is viewed as blasphemy and punishes offenders harshly. This holds true for both visitors and emigrants from North Korea.

Anything that might be construed as a threat or offence will result in incarceration or even death. Many are also acquainted with the story of Otto Warmbier, an American citizen and student who was detained at Pyongyang International Airport while waiting to leave the country after attempting to steal a billboard from his hotel room while visiting North Korea as part of a guided tour group. Warmbier was imprisoned, released in a vegetative condition, and passed away shortly thereafter in June 2017.

Not allowed to leave the nation

You might be perplexed as to why North Koreans do not escape in the face of such harsh laws because they can’t. Citizens of North Korea are not allowed to leave the country, and frontier guards will shoot anyone who does so without official documents.

For those who attempt to flee or hide from Kim’s totalitarian control, the most severe punishment is almost always death. However, travel limitations are also applicable within the country. You require permission in order to travel to see family in another town or hamlet.

Unique calender

In contrast to the rest of the world, North Korea uses a calendar dubbed the Juche calendar. It starts with their beloved revolutionary leader Kim II Sung’s birthdate of April 15, 1912.

Prison Camps

In North Korea, it is believed that around 200,000 citizens are living in camps. They were detained for alleged political offences. Every member of a person’s family is interned if they perpetrate a political crime. A prisoner’s entire family would be murdered if he managed to escape.

Malnutrition kills 40% of the inmates housed in these concentration camps. Many of them receive what appear to be fair sentences for hard labour, but they frequently end up working themselves to death.

Power cuts

North Koreans experience power outages every night because of the nation’s energy crises, and to use electricity, you need permission, while owning a microwave is considered illegal.

Modified basketball rules

The basketball games have been modified by the North Korean authorities. For instance, a slam dunk is worth 3 points, not 2, and 2-point goals made in the game’s final three minutes are worth 8. Additionally, you lose a point if you miss three shots.

Compulsory military service

All North Koreans are required to serve in the military. For males, it’s ten years, and for women, it’s seven.

No sucide

If one member of a family commits suicide, the entire family could be punished. Three generations of a person’s family will be punished if they perpetrate a crime.

Also Read: Top 10 Countries You Can Travel to Without COVID-19 Vaccination


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