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  • You're back from vacation, and boy do you have a lot to tell everyone around you.

  • When you announced you were going on vacation, everyone assumed you were thinking of a normal,

  • safe break from normal life.

  • They couldn't believe it when you told them you were not only going to another country,

  • you were traveling to one of the most dangerous spots in the world for tourists.

  • They all had the same question - what on earth made you want to take a vacation to North

  • Korea?

  • North Korea is called the hermit kingdom for a reason - there's no country on Earth more

  • closely guarded from outside eyes.

  • Ruled since 1948 by the Kim Dynasty and passed down from father to son over three generations,

  • North Korea is a totalitarian communist state considered one of the strictest dictatorships

  • in the world.

  • Ruled according to the principles of Juche, a philosophy translated asself-reliance”,

  • it's mostly in the news for military conflicts and missile tests.

  • But few people know about what goes on inside the isolated nation, which is sandwiched between

  • the powerful nations of China and South Korea.

  • It makes a lot of noise for a small nation on a small Asian peninsula, but it's not

  • easy to get inside - and that made you all the more interested to see it for yourself

  • and all the bizarre things that only exist within their borders.

  • The strange North Korean facts begin before you even get in the country, starting with

  • their tourism process.

  • They're the only country in the world where the tourism process is handled entirely through

  • state-controlled bureaus.

  • Companies like Korea International Travel Company and special companies aimed at bringing

  • international athletes to the country approve visitors and lead them on guided tours, with

  • very limited freedom to explore yourself.

  • Many countries, including the United States, warn or even prohibit tourists from their

  • country from going to North Korea because of the regime's tendency to arrest foreign

  • tourists for the slightest offense.

  • A minor mistake like walking in the wrong area or disrespecting the leader can lead

  • to a lengthy sentence in a North Korean labor camp.

  • Most people can apply to visit North Korea, with one major exception based on profession

  • - journalists.

  • The North Korean regime does not want their secrets getting out too easily.

  • Once you entered North Korea as a tourist, the cultural whiplash began quickly.

  • Nothing is like you expected back home, starting with time itself.

  • North Korea is one of the only countries in the world that doesn't use a standardized

  • calendar based around widespread dates, seasons, and measurements.

  • Instead, they have their own calendar that was adopted in 1997, on the third anniversary

  • of the death of Juche founder Kim Il-Sung.

  • Time is marked from his birth, known asDay of the Sun”, and the calendar is a combination

  • of historical Korean-era calendars and the Gregorian calendar.

  • Because North Korean dates only begin in 1912 with the birth of their founder, the current

  • year is only 109.

  • That puts them almost two thousand years behind the rest of us in years, so be careful not

  • to make any “2020 visionjokes while visiting.

  • Those guards don't look like they appreciate puns.

  • What's the first thing you do when you start a vacation?

  • Probably take a selfie and upload it to all your social media channels.

  • Not when you arrive in North Korea, because the internet as you know it doesn't exist.

  • Think about it - have you ever chatted with someone from North Korea on Twitter?

  • To even own a computer in North Korea, you need to get permission from the government,

  • and each computer is registered with and strictly tracked by the government more seriously than

  • deadly weapons in some places.

  • Few people in North Korea can afford computers, so the easiest way to access the internet

  • is through computer labs and internet cafes in big cities.

  • But don't count on being able to surf all your favorite pages - North Korea has its

  • own private Intranet, which runs similarly to the basic internet from the 1990s, and

  • you'll only be able to access around thirty websites.

  • And most of them are government information and propaganda websites running on slow dial-up

  • connections.

  • As a tourist, you just have to worry about keeping your head down, not making any waves,

  • and learning what you can about the country.

  • But for those who live here, proving your loyalty to the North Korean regime is a constant

  • process and you find yourself marked by how loyal you and your family are seen as.

  • Ever since 1957, the population of North Korea has been divided into three classes, oddly

  • named after fruits.

  • The Tomatoes, the elite class, are called that way because they're red (the color

  • associated with communism) inside and out.

  • Most likely to be politicians and military officers, they have special privileges and

  • are eligible for elite positions.

  • The Apples, the second class, are called that because they're red on the outside but not

  • the inside.

  • Most citizens fall into this class, and are seen as needing improvement and frequent surveillance.

  • But they're better off than the grapes, who are the lawbreakers who committed serious

  • crimes - scandalous things like making an illegal phone call.

  • Every citizen has their status, or songbun, printed on their identification records and

  • it influences every aspect of their life from school to career.

  • Committing a crime isn't good anywhere, and if you did it back home you'd probably

  • be spending some time in jail.

  • But you'd be the only person it affects.

  • Not so in North Korea, where the three-generations rule means your entire family can pay for

  • your crime.

  • Those who commit a crime against the state are sent to the brutal labor camps for punishment

  • and re-education, but so are up to three generations of their relatives - even if none of them

  • have ever been accused of a crime.

  • Even if you were a loyal, patriotic member of North Korean society, a tomato can become

  • a grape in an instant because of something their relative did.

  • Family reunions are great, but not when you're reunited digging ditches in a labor camp.

  • Well, at least it's easy to stay out of trouble.

  • You just have to avoid doing anything that would anger the massive surveillance apparatus

  • that works to track down all enemies of the state at the first sign of trouble.

  • We hope you didn't dress too casually when you came on the trip, because it's very

  • easy to get into legal trouble in North Korea for something as simple as your pants.

  • Blue jeans are banned in North Korea because they consider them a symbol of American imperialism.

  • But at least you can easily change your clothing.

  • If you were a resident of North Korea, your life would be strictly controlled - starting

  • with your hair.

  • In the Hermit Kingdom, all residents must have a government-approved hairstyle, one

  • of 28.

  • Unmarried women have to keep their hair short, but married women have more freedom.

  • Women play surprising roles in North Korea, including exclusively filling the role of

  • traffic guards.

  • Remember that grumpy old crossing guard when you were going to school?

  • She looked like a grandma, but your grandma never yelledMove it along!” quite like

  • that.

  • In North Korea, traffic police are very different.

  • Staffed entirely by young, attractive women under the age of 26, this position has existed

  • since the early days of the regime.

  • Because the country didn't have traffic lights yet, they had humans direct traffic.

  • The traffic women of North Korea are among the most prestigious positions people aspire

  • to there, with the workers getting higher pay, free housing, and even military honors

  • for doing their job well.

  • We're a long way from the intersection by your elementary school.

  • In your spare time when you're not being taken on guided tours around the country with

  • the other tourists, you figured you should take in some leisure activities.

  • You heard a game of basketball was being played locally, and you love the game.

  • But it doesn't take long into play until you realize this definitely isn't the basketball

  • you know.

  • They play a game with different rules than anywhere else on the planet.

  • Kim Jong-Il had courts installed in all of his palaces, and his son is friends with NBA

  • bad boy Dennis Rodman, but they've changed major details in the game.

  • Three-pointers are now worth eight points, missing a free throw subtracts one point from

  • the team's score, and any baskets made in the last eight seconds are now worth eight

  • points.

  • That makes for a chaotic finish to the game, but a confusing one for any outsiders watching.

  • Recreation in North Korea is as strange as everything else they do, but the oddness doesn't

  • end when you return to your hotel.

  • You're in a hotel with almost every other tourist in the country, in a centralized location

  • surrounded by water on an island in Pyongyang.

  • The Yanggakdo Hotel is one of the nicest places in the country, always kept comfortable even

  • when most of the city is without basic comforts like air conditioning.

  • Power goes out regularly in North Korea at night, so much that it can be seen from space

  • as the country goes dark, but you don't have to worry about that.

  • Don't count on enjoying your favorite TV shows, though - like the internet, you can

  • only get a select few TV channels, and they're almost all government propaganda.

  • You were lucky enough to be in North Korea for the biggest event of the year, as the

  • country set the Guinness Book of World Records award for the show with the largest number

  • of participants.

  • That's the Arirang Festival, a massive collection of gymnastics and art exhibits designed to

  • celebrate the North Korean culture and regime.

  • Also known as the Arirang Mass Games, they retell an ancient Korean folk story about

  • a young couple torn apart by an evil landlord.

  • Romance and anti-capitalism in one show - perfect for North Korea.

  • Getting selected to participate is a great honor in the country, and North Koreans are

  • chosen to participate as young as five years old.

  • The biggest Arirang Festival set a record in 2007 with over 100,000 participants.

  • But the biggest, strangest secret of North Korea is one very few people get to see, unless

  • they're members of the North Korean military.

  • The Korean Demilitarized Zone, standing between the borders of North and South Korea, is the

  • most heavily guarded zone in the world and has been standing since 1953 when an armistice

  • was signed between the two sides of the Korean War.

  • But an armistice isn't a peace deal, and neither North or South Korea acknowledges

  • the other's legitimacy.

  • That leaves them with a 160-mile long strip of land divided between the North Korean authorities

  • and United Nation control, with a small meeting area in the middle for negotiations.

  • But things in the DMZ have been anything but peaceful, as there have been hundreds of small

  • conflicts between the two sides, resulting in over a thousand deaths among the soldiers

  • stationed to guard it.

  • But just because it's the most heavily guarded location on the planet doesn't mean North

  • Korea is letting their propaganda game slip.

  • Large loudspeakers installed on the North Korean side broadcast messages towards the

  • other side, with South Korea sending their own right back.

  • They also send balloons with leaflets attached across the border.

  • These extensive propaganda efforts only ended in 2018, when a no-fly-zone was established

  • for the DMZ as an attempt to decrease tensions.

  • But one unique propaganda effort is still standing, not that it's easy to see unless

  • you're living close to the DMZ.

  • When South Korea built a village on their side of the DMZ, with 226 residents to show

  • North Koreans why they should defect, North Korea decided to build one of their own.

  • It's a fully furnished town calledPeace Village”, filled with houses, schools, and

  • hospitals, but it's only missing one thing - people.

  • North Korea claims that it houses 200 people, but no one has ever seen anyone there, and

  • close observers say there are a lot of giveaways that the village is a shell.

  • The houses don't have glass installed in the windows, and the lights seem to turn on

  • and off on an automatic cycle.

  • They did briefly have the world's tallest flagpole, designed to eclipse the South Korean

  • one, but now the only time anyone comes into the empty village is to keep it looking fresh

  • and clean.

  • You saw a lot of bizarre things in North Korea, and you can't wait to share them with all

  • your worried friends and family - now that you can access the internet again.

  • Now go watch this video about the bizarre incident that happened in the same country,

  • US Soldiers Attacked by Aliens in North Korea”?

  • Or for the other side of the DMZ, check outWhat If You Were Born in South Korea?”.

You're back from vacation, and boy do you have a lot to tell everyone around you.

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只有北韓才有的怪事 (Weird Things That Only Exist in North Korea)

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    Summer 發佈於 2021 年 01 月 14 日
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