Over the course of human history, our planet has seen the rise and fall of countless civilizations and nations, all of whom were either peaceful, war-loving, or somewhere in-between. All of these people also had to live under some sort of governing body, a fact that is still true today. And just like in the past, there are certain governments in place that choose to greatly mistreat its nation’s people just so that those in power can live their lives in luxury. Nowhere can this be seen better than in North Korea, which has been ruled over by the Kim family since 1948, and this dictatorship has managed to thrive off of the labor of citizens, who generally have to suffer through malnutrition, food and waterborne diseases, and easily treatable parasites.
The majority of North Koreans continue to follow their supreme leader with unbreakable loyalty, despite basically living in a prison state. And aside from being permanently brainwashed, they do this out of fear. Just like every other country, North Korea has laws that must be followed, and if any of those laws are broken, then a suitable punishment is supposed to be dealt. The only problem with that, though, is that North Korea’s laws revolve around keeping its citizens oppressed, which is why the punishments are so severe. For example, it is illegal for a citizen to say something negative about the government, and if they are caught, they are sentenced to death, which is completely absurd and horrific. Having an opinion may be illegal, but it is just the tip of the iceberg, as this article will identify 15 other things that you will not believe are illegal in North Korea.
15. Making An International Call
It goes without saying that virtually every single person in the developed world has their own cellphone, and believe it or not, there are still people who actually use the device to make phone calls. North Korea may be backwards in many ways, but even its people are allowed to have and use cellphones, but they are only allowed to call people who live in the country. Making an international call is absolutely forbidden, even if a family member was somehow allowed to go abroad, and the reason for this is because the government does not want citizens to make any contact with the outside world. If you are caught making an international call, you face execution, as several people have been killed for trying to communicate with relatives who live in South Korea.
14. Listening To Music
The music industry makes billions of dollars every single year, which makes sense seeing as there are dozens of different genres that cater to everyone’s unique tastes, and it also helps that the actual musicians are legitimately talented performers. The citizens of North Korea are allowed to listen to music because the regime understands that the people cannot live their lives without any sort of joy whatsoever. The only problem, though, is that they are only permitted to listen to music that glorify the regime, which means that you will not hear music from Taylor Swift, Justin Bieber, Kanye West, Metallica, or any other musicians from the West. If anyone does get caught listening to or playing non-approved music from a foreign country, that person will most likely face execution.
13. Removing A Poster
In every dictatorship, the government constantly feeds its people propaganda in order to make the regime and country seem strong and unbeatable, while also making their enemies appear to be vile entities. In North Korea, such propaganda can be seen everywhere, as evidenced by all of the posters that line the streets and the walls of numerous buildings. In most places, if you were to remove a random poster from a building or a sign, you may be given a small fine at best, but in North Korea, such an act will be viewed as an affront to the regime, which will result in excessive punishment. If a citizen did such a thing, they will either be sentenced to death or sent to a labor camp for decades. However, if a foreigner were to do it, they will just be sentenced to years of hard labor.
12. Getting An Unapproved Haircut
There are only a handful of businesses that will never run out of costumers, and barbers/ hair stylists are one of them because people with hair will always need to get their cut by someone who can do it properly. Here in North America, we can get our hair cut any way we want because we want it to match our style and personality, which is why people still walk around with Mohawks and mullets. North Koreans obviously have hair too, but if you see any in pictures or on TV, they tend to all look alike due to their similar hair styles, and that is no accident. North Koreans are only allowed to get haircuts that are approved by the government—28 styles to be exact. And if anyone chooses to go off-book, then they are looking at some nasty torture sessions.
11. Having An iPhone
We have already mentioned that North Korea lets its people use cellphones, but unlike the rest of us, North Korean citizens do not have a variety of products to choose from, which is why you will not see an ordinary person walking around with an iPhone. Apple is one of the biggest companies in the world, and their phones can be found everywhere, except North Korea, because the government forbids its citizens from having any sort of phone or computer from the West, which means that you will not find an Android in the country either. The punishment for having such products is either life in prison or execution, which is why most of its population settle for using cheap knock-off phones that are manufactured in China, who happen to be the government’s biggest ally.
10. Wearing Blue Jeans
Every single person in the world wears some type of clothing, unless they are hardcore n*dists, so it explains why there are so many stores and online retailers who choose to only sell clothing. It is true that many people buy clothes in order to look fashionable, but most people still buy them simply to feel comfortable in whatever environment they happen to be in, and for some reason, blue jeans seem to always be comfortable no matter where you are. You can find a pair of blue jeans anywhere, except for North Korea, because blue jeans have been completely banned simply because the piece of clothing is a popular accessory worn by the American people. You may not get executed for wearing jeans in North Korea, but a citizen will definitely find themselves working in prison for a fairly long time because of it.
9. Going On Vacation
Visiting another country should be a joyous and exciting endeavor, and for most people, it is because they do not have to worry about their government coming after them for simply going on vacation. North Korea only allows a select few to actually leave the country–mainly athletes, diplomats, and other high-ranking officials–which means that no ordinary citizen is permitted to set foot over the border. This is done to ensure that ordinary citizens are not influenced in any way by the West, and to ensure that no one leaves, the regime has a pretty severe penalty in place. If you do go abroad in any way, the government will send people to hunt you down, and if they are successful, you and possibly your entire family will be publicly executed.
8. Happy Hour
Every single country in the world has laws pertaining to alcohol consumption, such as the legal drinking age and the legal limit when it comes to driving a vehicle, but very few places have a strict mandate regarding when people are actually allowed to have a drink. North Korea is one of those places, as the country only allows its citizens to drink alcohol on very specific days, and if anyone is caught drinking on an unauthorized day, then they will have to deal with one of several punishments. For example, when Kim Jong-il died in 2011, there was a 100-day mourning period put in place where no one was allowed to drink, but a military officer did the unthinkable and had one during that period, and he got executed because of it.
Every single day, people have to leave their homes for a variety of different reasons, which is why we see so many cars on the roads—because a car is still the fastest way to travel in a city or small community. North Korea has roads, so it stands to reason that the country has cars, which it does. But, as it turns out, it is actually illegal for most of the population to own a car or drive one. It is believed that there is roughly 1 car for every 100 people, and that is because the regime believes that only government officials should be allowed to move around freely. If a citizen is not an official and gets caught driving a normal car, then they risk getting tortured or sent to a prison camp, but if they get caught driving a military vehicle, than execution will likely be their punishment.
6. Living In The Capital
Washington, D.C. is probably the most protected capital in the entire world, and although the city is filled with people who work in the government in some way, there are still ordinary people with ordinary jobs who live there too. That is not something that is unique to the United States, though, as virtually every country allows ordinary citizens to live in the capital if they are able to. However, in North Korea, things a very different. The capital city of Pyongyang is by far the best place to live because that is where most of the country’s food, money, and quality healthcare are, but people are only allowed to live there as long as the government gives them permission. Unless you are related to a high-ranking official or have really good connections, chances are you will never be permitted to live in Pyongyang, and if you are caught living there illegally, you will wish you never stepped foot in the city.
5. Having A Religion
For thousands of years, humanity has worshiped and prayed to all-powerful beings, and although we worshiped different pantheons of gods for most of that time, most beliefs now focus primarily on one almighty being. The most dominate religions in the world are Christianity, Catholicism, Islam, and Hinduism, but in North Korea, none of those religions are permitted. The government established very early on that the only person who can truly be considered an almighty being is the country’s supreme leader, which is why the overwhelming majority of North Koreans are either atheists or people who believe that their leader is a god. Practicing a religion is blasphemy and is punishable by death, something that 80 Christians found out the hard way in 2013 when they were publicly executed for simply possessing Bibles.
4. Watching TV
We currently live in a time in which TV offers the best kind of entertainment, as there are literally hundreds of shows to pick from, shows that cover every genre imaginable and generally tell interesting and compelling stories with great characters. If you, for some reason, decide to visit North Korea, do not expect to find any of your favorite shows playing over there because in the country, it is illegal to watch TV shows that are not produced within the country itself. Everyone in the country must watch North Korean programming that praises the regime and the supreme leader, and if they watch any foreign show whatsoever, they will be publicly executed. Just to give you an idea, there have been hundreds of people who have been executed over the years just for watching South Korean shows.
3. Watching “Those” Films
There are many who still consider adult films to be disgusting and immoral, but most people do not, which is why the business makes billions of dollars every year despite the fact that the internet makes it all readily available for free. There may be age restrictions to adult films and some laws that ban certain acts, but other than that, these films are allowed to be viewed by the public unless you live in North Korea, of course. Apparently, the government does not believe that people should be able to watch other individuals being intimate with each other on film, which is why it is illegal for anyone to watch and/or sell adult films. The idea of receiving a literal death sentence for watching an adult film sounds completely insane, but in North Korea, it is considered to be a proper punishment.
Everyone makes mistakes, it is just one of the things that truly makes us human, and although some people may not want to admit it, we all make some kind of mistake every single day. Granted, there are different kinds of mistakes, as you can answer a question on a test incorrectly, or you can make a wrong turn while driving, but there are much more serious types of mistakes like willingly taking drugs or accidentally shooting someone. One of the simplest mistakes is making a typo, and although such a thing can have a variety of negative outcomes, no one will say that the person who made the typo deserves to die. That is not the case in North Korea, though, as a typo is deemed to be an act of disrespect towards the government, as evidenced by a journalist who was executed in 2015 for making a typo in an article about the supreme leader.
1. Escaping From…
North Korean prisons are absolutely horrible because if someone enters one, they will likely never leave, mainly because they will probably die from either malnutrition, sickness, or forced labor. Considering that basically all the things mentioned on this list can get you thrown into one of those hellish prisons, it is no wonder that people try to escape. As you might have guessed, it is illegal to escape from prison in North Korea, an act that is actually illegal in every country. But in North Korea, the punishment for escape is brutally severe. If you were to escape, not only would you get punished, but FOUR generations of your family will be punished in the same way as well, which usually means that a person’s grandparents and children will be forced to work in a prison camp.
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