North Korea is the world's most mysterious country. Nobody is allowed to see what really goes beyond its borders. Even if foreign journalists and tourists come to visit, they are usually scheduled in the capital of Pyongyang according to a strict schedule. Foreigners are never left alone and they are constantly monitored. There is reason to believe that we will never see the whole truth and that the positive media coverage in North Korea is pure propaganda.
According to the people who have run from North Korea, the rest The land is far more impoverished and rundown compared to the upscale life we see in the capital. But for those who have visited the country, there are many things in North Korea that you would probably never expect.
0th Knockoff McDonald's Food
There are no foreign fast food chains in North Korea like McDonald's or KFC, but people still want to eat fast food. They have their own chain called Samthaesong Soft Drink Restaurant . The menu is filled with McDonalds knock-offs, such as French fries which are even served in the iconic red and yellow containers. You can also order dishes such as fried chicken and waffles. Obviously, these restaurants are considered luxury and the average person must eat his food rations. But for those who have eaten McDonald's French fries, they will never be the same again.  In 2018 it was reported that the North Koreans wanted to have a genuine McDonalds in their country. This is an even bigger business than you can possibly imagine. It probably has less to do with French fries than diplomacy. In the 1990s, the introduction of McDonald's restaurants in Russia and China became a symbol of countries willing to open to the West. For a country that claims to hate the United States for so long, this could be a big step forward for the nation.
. 9 A School for Foreign Children
It is well known that foreigners are normally forbidden access to the land, and even if they do, this is usually the case for a short period of time. But there are actually emigrants who live in North Korea and form families. However, there are no foreign language students in a normal classroom. All immigrant children must attend Pyongyang Foreigners School .
These foreign children include diplomats and business people. The school is located in the Munsudong Diplomatic Compound, which is separate from the rest of the company. You might think in North Korea they would want these kids exposed to all Korean things. Believe it or not, every lesson is taught in English, Korean as a second language. On the walls of the classroom are photos of the Great Leader, traditional pieces of music in the building and children learning Korean stories and games.
. 8 The largest stadium in the world
In North Korea is the world's largest sports stadium . The May Day Stadium in Pyongyang was built in 1989 and redesigned in 2014. It seats 150,000 people and has the largest capacity in the world. Physical fitness is considered as such an important part of society in North Korea that people are trained in public together. There was even a whole propaganda film named O Youth! (1994) shot to encourage people to do more sport. In the film, a middle-class family has five daughters, all of whom want to be professional athletes in various sports, but they all can enjoy the stadium.
Today, the stadium is mainly used for an annual event the Mass Games where the participants organize a mass gymnastics for the audience. The stadium is also used on national holidays, such as the birthdays of Kim Jong-il and Kim Jong-un. At the end of every performance there is always a big fireworks display.
. 7 A Luxury Ski Resort
After Kim Jong-un came to power, he ordered the construction of the Masikryong Ski Area to be held before the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea. Since growing up in Switzerland, skiing has been a normal part of Kim's childhood. But for the people of North Korea, they are still adapting to learn this new sport. Four hours outside of Pyongyang, the resort offers everything you would expect in other countries, including a ski lodge with pool and spa. And of course the slopes.
A British National Geographic journalist named Jamie Barrow filmed his trip to the North Korean ski resort. There were only a handful of people on the slopes for beginners and advanced skiers, and absolutely no one used the higher parts of the mountain, which were designed for expert skiers and snowboarders. The only people who can afford to use this resort are members of the upper class. Chances are, it will take a very long time for winter sports in the country to become more popular (or more accessible).
. 6 K-Pop Concerts
For years, North Korean citizens have been forbidden to listen to music from outside. Musical performances are a big thing in the country, and there are some very talented musicians living there. The songs, however, are usually meant to glorify the Great Leader and their love for their country. With a growing number of flash drives sneaking across the border, many North Koreans hear K-pop and see South Korean dramas.
Kim Jong-un has sought to establish peaceful relations between North and South Korea, and one of the ways to achieve this is music. In 2018, Pyongyang had a K-pop concert with the girls band Red Velvet . This was not the first time a South Korean show had come to the North, but had not taken place since the 1990s. We can only hope that these concerts will continue in the future.
. 5 Smartphones
North Koreans can not communicate with the outside world, but they still have smartphones. Obviously, these phones can only make phone calls within the country. They also have apps, but they are primitive compared to what you can find in the field. You have your standard clock, camera and games. They also have an app that sends a high frequency claiming that mosquitoes are being rejected. Unfortunately, the app did not actually work but the North Korean citizens still believe that it's the cutting-edge technology.
There are smartphone brands that you can not find anywhere else in the world, such as the Pyongyang Touch and the Azalea 3. The most popular phone is called "Arirang" . that runs on Android. No one has the opportunity to buy an iPhone or choose a different brand than the government offers. And of course, not everyone can afford to buy a phone. According to the Wall Street Journal these smartphones are just another way for the government to spy on its citizens. Obviously, this is difficult to confirm, but without privacy laws, it would make sense that the DPRK could spy on people at any time if they so wished.
. 4 White Movie Stars
During the reign of Kim Jong-il, he ordered the creation of countless films and TV series. The majority of these shows are considered propaganda forms. Logic would tell you that the entire cast of each movie is North Korean, but in many of their movies and TV shows, there are actually white people.
After the Korean War in the 1960s, an American soldier named James Dresnok was transferred to North Korea. In some movies, he got a role as an American villain, and he became a celebrity. Considering that he stood like a thumb in the shop, people recognized him wherever he went. In interviews, he said he was treated like a rock star and loved his new life in North Korea. He went on to have two sons . When they grew up, they replaced their father in these roles.
. 3 A Water Park
One of the last things you would expect in North Korea is a huge water park. Munsu Water Park was completed in 2013. There are both indoor and outdoor pools and 14 water slides so you can get there any time of the year. There are also many other activities, such as a climbing wall, a volleyball court, a buffet and even a hairdresser … because apparently you have to look fresh to drive down the waterslides. Incidentally, in North Korea there are only 15 options of Government approved haircuts for both men and women. But this is another story.
Just like anything else that is fun in North Korea, it is really only available to people who can afford it, which is a very small part of the population. But there is one thing that is more than a little bit outlandish. When you walk through the entrance of the water park for the first time, there is a statue of Kim Jong-il reminding you that there is no fun if the Great Leader does not watch you.
. 2 A Wrong Village
There is an area between North and South Korea called the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). In the 1950s, North Koreans built a city called Kijong-dong, which means "peace village." The entire point of the city is to encourage South Koreans to feel as though they would like to move to North Korea because it looks so peaceful and beautiful there. According to North Korea, this is a thriving farming community that is home to 200 families.
South Koreans, however, call it "propaganda village" because they believe that all this is just a façade into which they want their folks to defect. For years, 20 hours a day in the city loud North Korean music was blown in the city, which was not played in 2004. Some people believe that the houses and buildings were built on one side only, like in a movie. Since outsiders can not be entered, we do not really know if anyone lives there or if it really is a ghost town.
. 1 Marijuana
And last but not least, when you go to North Korea, you will find tons of weeds. As with most North Korea-related things, things are a little blurred as the nation's access is under-granted. However, there is a strong belief that it is a paradise for weed smokers. They call the plant "ipdambae," which means leaf tobacco. It can be seen growing in North Korea in the wild and many people grow it in backyard gardens. Citizens see it as a cheap alternative to cigarettes because they only need to pick a few leaves and smoke after a long day's work.
A journalist visited in North Korea Darmon Richter could do this Buy enough weeds to replenish a complete grocery bag for just 80 cents. He and his companion went together to a local restaurant and "Smoked Joint After Joint" while they ate. North Koreans consider such a problem unimportant that they have apparently never bothered to enact laws that prohibit it.
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