North Korea is a mythical country, meaning that, due to the lack of information, a lot of myths have been created about it. However, some of them eventually turned out to be true.
We at Bright Side decided to figure out which things are banned or restricted in the most closed country in the world. And we should admit that some of them really surprised us.
15. It is forbidden to wear blue jeans.
If you can afford jeans, you can wear them. But the denim should be black because blue jeans are prohibited. In North Korea, they embody world imperialism. However, if you are a tourist, nobody will say a word to you, but you’ll have to change when visiting the Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il memorial.
14. There is no access to the World Wide Web or Wi-Fi.
They have computers and internet in North Korea. Though it is not quite the internet, more of an intranet called “Kwangmyong.“ The number of sites is estimated at 1,000 to 5,500. All the international websites are banned, and if you are not a high-ranker, you will never be allowed to visit them. The local operating system ”Red Star” in its latest version reminds one of MacOS X. They say it was done due to Kim Jong-un’s fondness for Apple products.
As for Wi-Fi, it simply doesn’t exist. Mobile devices don’t even have access to “Kwangmyong.” Chinese tablets produced for North Korea don’t have Wi-Fi or Bluetooth modules. They are just not needed.
13. Foreigners can’t use local currency.
Tourists are not allowed to use the local national currency of North Korean wons. In local shops for foreigners, one can pay with euros, yuans, South Korean wons, and even US dollars. It is prohibited to buy anything from the shops for local Koreans. Moreover, foreigners are prohibited even to enter such shops.
12. You can’t buy real estate in North Korea.
Apartments in North Korea are not officially for sale. They are distributed by the government. One can’t even choose to move from the countryside to Pyongyang. This privilege can only be honored. However, on the black market, an apartment can be purchased for 70,000-90,000 USD. Refugees claim that the official salary of a regular Korean citizen is 4 USD per month.
11. It is almost impossible to buy a car.
In North Korea, those who own a car are definitely very rich and powerful people. The price of a car is sky-high and equals approximately 40,000 USD (in accordance with this website). Even a bicycle is not quite affordable and can rarely be encountered outside Pyongyang. All bicycles have license plates, just like cars.
10. Newspapers from a few years ago cannot be found in a library.
It is impossible to find a newspaper which was printed a few years ago in a library. The course of the Workers’ Party of Korea can change, and simple Koreans don’t have to know about that. Of course, foreign newspapers and magazines are out of the question. However, daily newspapers are usually displayed inside special stands on the streets and in subway stations, and there is no need to buy them.
9. It’s impossible to buy religious literature.
North Korea is a 100% civil country. Religion is not prohibited, at least by law. Moreover, there are even a few religious villages in Pyongyang, though they are strictly regulated by the government.
On the other hand, Christianity is taken as a competition to the official ideology of Juche and is not really welcomed. There are also Buddhist temples, but they are mostly considered as historical and cultural heritage.
8. You can’t call abroad with a local SIM card.
Cell phones are not really rare in North Korea anymore. However, local citizens are not allowed to make calls abroad or even to a foreigner who is in North Korea. All local SIM cards allow calls only inside the country. Just in case.
7. You can’t take a hot shower at home.
There is no hot water supply in North Korean houses, thus no showers. Koreans usually visit baths. There is also no central heating. To warm the house, they use furnaces which work with wood. Even in Pyongyang.
Some might object by saying that other Asian countries don’t have central heating either. However, in other countries, they can use electrical heaters. In North Korea, they have problems with electricity even in the capital.
6. No Coca-Cola in the shops.
Before 2015, there were only 2 countries in the world where Coca-Cola was banned: Cuba and North Korea. When this beverage was eventually allowed to be sold on the Island of Freedom, North Korea was the only country left that didn’t have Coca-Cola in its shops. For ideological reasons, of course.
5. International travel is impossible.
North Korean citizens cannot buy an international airplane ticket and fly to another country for vacation. Not because it is very expensive, but because it is forbidden.
However, travel restrictions are also applied inside the country. To visit your relatives in another town or a village, you have to receive permission. However, some North Koreans still can go abroad to China or Russia but only to earn money.
4. There is no McDonald’s in North Korea.
It is obvious that there are no fast food chains in North Korea. However, street kiosks with traditional Korean food become more and more popular there. Everyone’s favorite is kimchi, a tasty and very spicy cabbage.
3. Foreigners are not allowed to take photos or even talk to local people without specific permission.
Despite popular opinion, a local citizen will not be jailed or executed for a conversation with a foreigner. However, the delinquent will have a serious talk with special service representatives. If you try to talk to someone or take a photo of them, they will probably run away from you.
It is actually forbidden to take photos of anything around you. A guide who accompanies all foreigners will stop you. Especially when it comes to military objects (which is almost everything there) and backstage Korean life
2. It is almost impossible to buy condoms or feminine hygiene products.
It’s hard to believe, but most North Koreans don’t even know that condoms exist. A few decades ago, they appeared on the black market but were not very popular for the reason mentioned above. Now it’s almost impossible to buy them in the country, due to the lack of demand.
Tampons will never be found in Korean shops either. At least in those meant for locals. It probably sounds astonishing, but Korean women still have to use regular fabric, which they reuse after washing.
1. You will never get a creative haircut in North Korea.
In local hair salons, you can find pictures of the recommended female and male haircuts. On the other hand, the most fashionable haircut is the one worn by the country’s leader. That is why the majority of men prefer the same haircut as Kim Jong-Un. The female hit is a chin-length bob, again thanks to Kim Jong-Un, who mentioned that such a haircut looks very good on Korean women.
Bonus: North Korean radio
There are a few television and radio channels which broadcast shows, movies, plays, and so on. Though they are all quite politicized, connected to current events in the country, and praising all 3 Kims.