There isn’t a lot of information about the world’s youngest dictator, Kim Jong-un. He doesn’t talk about his personal life, and you can find very weird things in his official biography. Your only chance to find something out about this man is to read what very observant journalists write or to read the reports from South Korean intelligence.
What does the outside world really know about North Korea, one of the most isolated and ruthlessly ruled nations on earth?
Here are 10 fascinating facts about the North to get a better understanding of how it operates:
- The founder and first leader of North Korea, Kim Il Sung, created the country’s policy of Juche or “self-reliance,” which cut off North Korea economically and diplomatically from the rest of the world, even in times of great need, such as famines.
- Kim Jong Il, son of the country’s founder, has performed amazing feats, according to state-controlled media: He scored a perfect 300 the first time he went bowling and sank 11 holes-in-one the first time he played golf.
- During its seven-decade existence, North Korea has been ruled by three generations of the same family, all brutal dictators. Kim Jong Un, 33, grandson of Kim Il Sung, came to power in 2011, following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.
- North Koreans must abide by one of 28 approved haircuts. Unmarried women must have short hair, but the married woman has many more options. The hair of young men should be less than 2 inches long, older men can go as long as 2¾ inches, according to a Taiwanese website WantChinaTimes.
- All legal televisions are tuned to state-controlled domestic programming. The Internet does not exist other than a closed domestic network. Few North Koreans know anything about world events apart from how they are described by North Korean state propaganda.
- North Korea’s missile program was first developed with help from the then-Soviet Union in the 1970s.
- Kim Jong Un’s older half-brother, Kim Jong Nam, was assassinated at the Kuala Lumpur airport in Malaysia on Feb. 13 by two women who used a deadly nerve agent, according to Malaysian authorities. The Malaysian government blamed North Korean agents for his murder.
- As many as 2 million people died as a result of famine in the 1990s caused by erratic government farming policies and flooding, according to the United Nations.
- North Korea’s regime gets much of its income by exporting to Japan and elsewhere counterfeit pharmaceuticals, such as Viagra, narcotics such as methamphetamine, counterfeit cigarettes and fake $100 U.S. bills, and by selling small arms and missile parts to terror groups and rogue nations.
- North Korea has a network of informants who monitor and report to the authorities fellow citizens they suspect of criminal or subversive behaviour. Unauthorized access to non-state radio or TV broadcasts is severely punished.
- He has several official titles. Of course, it’s “The Main Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the Leader of the Party, and the People.”
- He laughs and smiles in every photo. Look at some photos of the politician who scares many countries. This is him on Paektu Mountain.
- He doesn’t need to visit the bathroom. At least, that’s what the North Korean people believe. The same could be said about his father, Kim Jong-il (you can read about this in his official biography).