It’s possible you have heard something about the isolated nation of North Korea but there are not actual proofs that prove the painful conditions that its people live. In fact, the Korean peninsula used to be one united nation until was divided after the WW II which the result was the North part adopted a communist model and the South chose to be a democratic nation. It’s extremely rare for Western photographers to take some pics of the society and its poor conditions under the dictatorship of Kim Jong-un. Due it’s illegal to take photos of everyday life and show them outside the country is something very risky to do. But here are some amazing photos that portray the lifestyle of the isolated nation.
North Korea Spends Most Of The Money On Its Army
It impossible to know how much exactly the North Korean dictator, Kim Jong-Un, spends on the Korean People’s Army, but it’s rumored to be a fortune. In fact, the North Korean army has laser-guided missiles, nuclear weapons, chemical weapons, and an impressive cyberwarfare unit.
People Has To Work For Their Education
It’s required that North Korean students purchase their own chairs, desks, and winter’s heating. Plus, they are also obliged to work at the school to produce different articles for the government.
Less Than 3% of North Korea’s Roads Are Paved
Incredibly, most of the nation’s roads are unpaved. In fact, less than 3% of North Korea’s roads are paved; that represents about 120,538 square kilometers of roads.
Bill Gates’ Net Worth is Larger Than North Korea’s GDP
Bill Gates had a reported net worth of $90.2 billion in 2017, which is four times larger than North Korea’s gross domestic product (GDP) which is estimated at $17.4 billion. North Korea’s economic system is completely controlled by the government. The estate has the total control of production, distribution, and prices.
The Isolated Nation is Considered The Most Corrupt Nation in The World
According to the Corruption Index, North Korea is tied with Somalia as the most corrupt country in the world with a score of 8. However, also according to that report, it doesn’t exist any nation which can be considered as a perfect corrupt-free country.
North Korea Has The Size of Pennsylvania
Looking at these maps, you might think that North Korea’s territory is big but actually it has the same size of Pennsylvania. North Korea’s extension is about 120,538 km2, which is bigger than the American state just by a slight difference. However, only about of its 19.5% of its territory is suitable for agriculture.
Western Visitors Can’t Walk Freely in North Korean Streets
If you are going to visit North Korea, it must first be approved by the government and then they will assign a “tourist guide” to you and you can’t say “no thank you.” In fact, the guide will be with you for the rest of your stay. The photographer Michal Huniewicz explains his personal experience of his visit to North Korea: “We were intercepted by the tourist guides, who we could not leave during our entire stay and tell us when to sleep and when to wake up.”
North Korean Soldiers Are Everywhere
The Korean People’s Army (or KPA) is one of the biggest in the world with over 1.2 million soldiers on active duty. It’s reported that one in every 25 citizens is an active soldier. The largest branch of the KPA is the Ground Force which has one million active members.
Smoking Marijuana is Legal
According to reporters who have visited the country, members of the government can both consume and purchase with no worries of being prosecuted in North Korea. However, it’s unknown is the same rule also applies to both regular citizens and tourists.
North Korean Public Services Are Strict
It seems that North Koreans citizens are divided into groups according to their level loyalty to the regime. Their loyalty is determined by their political background, their own and family’s behavior, their economic and social status.
North Korean Male and Female Citizens Are Obliged to Use A Certain Haircut
All men in North Korea are obliged to cut their hair so it can’t be longer than 2 centimeters. Women are also required to have a hairstyle following a selection of 18 approved styles.
It costs $8,000 to Leave North Korea
Anyone who dares to leave North Korea will be punished if they are caught trying to escape. Actually, there is a way to do so but it has a price: $8,000. However, that will only permit the person to go to China. For that reason, there are a very few North Koreans would be able to afford such sum of money.
Locals and Tourists Can’t Buy in The Same Stores
As aforementioned, tourists are not allowed to go wherever they please during their stay in North Korea. However, the photographer Michal Huniewicz managed to get away from his two guides for a moment, he entered into a local shopping area and took this photo before he was removed by a cop who told him that is for locals only.
Military Trucks Don’t Look in A Very Good Shape
These are the vehicles that transport North Korean soldiers and don’t seem to have a good shape. But this is indeed an illegal photo! It’s completely forbidden to take any photos of the military personnel.
The Streets Must Be Keeping Clean
According to people who have traveled to North Korea, have highlighted the cleanness around Pyongyang. In fact, the government must spend a lot of time and effort to make sure the capital city can be proudly shown. However, the cleanness of the nation’s capital is not the true reflection of how is life in other parts of North Korea. The photographer Michal Huniewicz managed to portray this reality as we see this citizen urinating on the side of the road.
Music in North Korea
Kim Il-Sung, North Korea’s previous leader, established that all music arts must be ideologically correct. Therefore, all kind of music was prohibited (especially Jazz music). Then his son and successor, Kim Jong-Il, has shown a more open mind towards music and allowed western music genres to be played. And he decided to create the North Korean musical sensation: the Moranbong Band (pictured below) which is a group of female members that were directly chosen by the current supreme leader.
Citizens Are Not Allowed to Travel Around The Country
North Korean citizens are not allowed to travel around the country freely. It’s required to obtain a permission from the government to travel outside of their city/town. Besides, it’s also prohibited to travel long distances using their own car. To do so, they have to use bus or train.
The “Three Generation of Punishment” Rule in North Korea
In North Korea, if a person breaks a law, probably will be sent to a labor camp, but there is a small detail: that person won’t be the only one who’ll suffer the consequences of his acts. His entire family will be punished too. In plain words, the grandparents, the parents and the sons of the perpetrator will be sent to prison too.
Pyongyang is The Pride Of North Korea’s Regime
The capital city of Pyongyang was destroyed during the Korean War but it was rebuilt by the following regimes. In fact, the tourist guides always will take tourists to several places of the largest city in North Korea to show with proud the achievements of the government.
State Workers Work Tirelessly
State Workers don’t have access to any kind of vehicles to carry objects or at least to be able to move from one place to another. Nevertheless, they are always giving their best efforts to complete their works for the government.
North Korean Taxis Are Not For Tourists
Incredibly, taxis can’t be used by tourists, so they are for locals only. However, the prices are so high that they are only used by the wealthy class. What a contradiction right?
The Military Are Watching Every Move
This photo is a perfect reflection of how is the life for regular citizens who are constantly supervised by a soldier. Here we can see two women cleaning and sweeping the streets while a soldier is standing there to watch them to ensure that their job is done properly. What a stressful condition to perform an ordinary work.
The Origins of Memorial Day in America: Rooted in a History of Former Slaves and Bravery
Memorial Day is widely celebrated in the United States, as a way to remember the heroism and sacrifice of those fallen American soldiers. The day has become a time of celebration and community gatherings. With parades, food, and fireworks., it’s just like July 4th. But, while we all know the origins of other American holidays (including the 4th of July), Memorial Day is still shrouded in lost and misunderstood history. The full story is not known, and it’s quite a tale!
Who Invented Memorial Day?
The first acknowledged Memorial Day is linked with the tragic loss of life in Charleston, South Carolina that took place toward the end of the Civil War. Hundreds of Union soldiers were left for dead at the Washington Race Course, a makeshift prisoner-of-war camp by the Confederate side. With Confederate General Robert E. Lee’s abrupt surrender at Appomattox Court House, Virginia, on April 9, 1865. The war had taken a brutal toll on both sides, but the end of the war inspired a mass exodus of Charleston by soldiers and citizens alike. Former slaves stayed behind. Inspired by patriotic fervor, they called themselves the “Patriotic Association of Colored Men.” They took it upon themselves to bring honor and dignity to the fallen soldiers left in the race-course prison in unmarked graves when the Confederate soldiers fled.
They excavated the unmarked mass graves and then dug 257 individual graves, surrounded by a fence to ensure a place of honor and security. Once their final memorial was complete, the community turned out for “Decoration Day,” which is now recognized by many as the first Memorial Day, in 1865. The event included the march on the race track, singing by 2,800 black school children, preaching by black ministers, and the wide-spread decoration of the graves. It was a way to honor the soldiers, who’d been viewed as martyrs by the Patriotic Association of Colored Men.
The Rest is History
Tragic loss and sacrifice are at the center of virtually every version of the first Memorial Day celebrations, but the scale is important. The Decoration Day tradition was later launched in Waterloo, New York (and yes, they claim to have invented the first Memorial Day). Memorial celebrations for Confederate soldiers took place in April 1866, and then Union Major General John A. Logan declared May 5, 1868, to be Decoration Day. There are a number of conflicting reports and claims for the events and meaning of the commemorations that took place following the cessation of hostilities at the end of the Civil War. But that last event took place at Arlington National Cemetery. The formalization of the event at Arlington, with the mass decoration of graves with flowers and flags, is part of why the 1868 event is widely considered to be the first national Memorial Day event in US History.
Memorial Day was then set as a May 30th national holiday, and it has continued to evolve. The true history of the day is complicated by historical bias and the fickle memories of the participants, but the role of these men and women who had once been slaves is important. After all, the Emancipation Proclamation, issued on January 1, 1863, was just a few years old when the war ended. Former slaves signed up to become Union soldiers en masse. An estimated 25,000 soldiers fought for the Union Army, but approximately 10% of their ranks were former slaves. They fought bravely and with distinction. In fact, 16 black soldiers were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor for their heroism in battle. It’s about time that we recognized the hidden stories that have for so long gone untold.
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