10 of the strangest and most repressive North Korean laws
North Korea is often in the headlines because of its antagonistic relations with the United States, and its missile program is rapidly improving. But because the country rarely allows people to visit and jealously guard its secrets, most of us know very little about what is really happening in the small country of East Asia.
From what we know, the Government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is oppressing its citizens with extreme brutality. Here is an overview of some of the toughest and most unusual laws these citizens must follow …
Since 2013, North Korea has imposed strict rules on hairstyles that adults can have. There are 30 government approved haircuts, 15 for men and 15 for women, which are allowed. No matter which option you choose, they will wear one of the latest hair trends of the 50s.
Keep it Short
For young men, the length of their hair should remain less than 5 cm (about 2 inches), although older men are allowed to grow as long as 7 cm (about 3 inches). For women, the exact lengths of their hair are subject to less precise regulation. The only rule is that married women should keep their hair short, while single women can wear it longer. Anyone caught with an unauthorized haircut gets a shot.
You probably would not be surprised to discover that the date of Kim Il-Sung’s death is a national holiday in North Korea. He has been the leader of the country since its founding in 1948 until his death on July 8, 1994. Every July 8 is now a day of mandatory mourning nationwide.
Keep it Down
First, talking loudly or even smiling on July 8th is forbidden. Add to that no chewing gum or noisy behavior allowed near Kim’s statues during periods of respect. People who violate these laws can be sent to labor camps …
Permission to Move
In North Korea, there is a significant difference in the quality of life between living in the countryside and living in its capital, Pyongyang. But unlike most places in the world, people can not decide to move to the city for better opportunities. In order to live in the city, which is mainly populated by members of the upper social caste, you must have express written permission from the government.
High voter turnout
You often hear about the relatively low participation rate of the United States compared to other countries. North Korea does not have that kind of problem. In fact, all people over the age of 17 are required by law to vote. It is not so much that the DPRK strongly values democracy (there is only one option to vote after all). Mandatory voting is used to monitor the population. If a person’s name does not appear on the list of electors, the government investigates, and that’s how they find defectors …
Change the channel
If you want to surf in North Korea, it will not take much time. There are only 4 TV stations for most people and every word spoken on them is produced by the government. There is the central Korean television, which is the source of all the news of the state, two educational channels and a sports channel. On them, the shows are literally shouted with enthusiasm.
Local calls only
Telephone calls are also strictly regulated. Citizens are not allowed to make international phone calls. One in ten North Koreans has a smartphone, but the country’s two mobile operators do not allow international calls. Some people living near the Chinese border may use Chinese contraband SIM cards to connect to Chinese networks, but if they are captured, they could be put to death.
For the same reason that people are not allowed on international television, Internet access is severely restricted. If the average North Korean knew what life outside of the country was like, it might incite him to revolt and overthrow Kim’s regime.
To prevent this from happening, the only people allowed to use the Internet are usually government officials and selected upper class people who have received special permission. But even for these people, they do not see the same things you do online. There are only 28 active websites allowed.
Regarding how they decide who is high or low class, North Korea has a strictly applied caste system. When North Korea was formed, each citizen was placed in one of the three castes, the first being the “basic” caste. It is made up of the elites of the countries, including Kim, the people closest to him, their relatives and the fighters of the anti-Japanese resistance.
Wavering and Hostile
The second and largest caste is the “hesitant” caste. This caste is composed of peasants, workers and workers. Underneath is the “hostile” caste, made up of North Koreans who enjoyed high status during Japanese rule, including landowners, intellectuals, religious leaders, and aristocrats. The partially hereditary caste system is still in place today and dictates many aspects of citizens’ lives, including where they can go and what they can do for work …
One of the most universally accepted aspects of the various legal systems in the world is that if a crime is committed, those responsible must be punished. North Korea goes even further with the “three generations” rule.
Think of your family
The rule states that when a person is convicted of a crime and sent to a labor camp, his entire family is also sent to labor camps. Then, the next 2 generations of the family who were born and raised in the camp must stay there all their lives. This extreme measure aims to limit crime to an absolute minimum …
One of the best things that North Korea has to do is that it has never had any traffic problems. In fact, during peak hours, it is not uncommon for a driver to have 10 lanes of the highway all by himself – with a focus on himself.
Not Just Sexist
In North Korea, women are not allowed to drive at all. If you are a man, you are still not guaranteed the right. Only government officials can own a car or be allowed to drive. By limiting legal drivers, it’s much easier to control and monitor people’s movements …
No Gods Here
While North Korea technically has religious freedom, you would find it difficult to find someone who practices his faith openly. Some state-sponsored places of worship exist for the express purpose of showing to passing aliens. Apart from that, religion is forbidden.
Praise the Leader
The most severely punished religion is Christianity. Just being caught with a Bible can make you run. If a North Korean wants to worship, the only option approved is to worship Kim Jong-un as a living divine being …
Probably the worst crime in North Korea is trying to leave. If citizens were allowed to leave the country, they would flock to the Chinese border, resulting in an almost instantaneous collapse of the country.
In order to keep people in the country and keep them online, those who are tempted to leave must face unimaginable punishments. There are a number of horror stories about people trying to leave the country, only to be killed during the attempt, then to send their families to labor camps. Mostly because of the punishment your family would suffer, even if you managed to escape, very few people try to escape.