Between the feisty threats that seem to be a rite of passage for their leaders and the just plain insane little idiosyncrasies of this small country, North Korea has been deemed by the brutish beings of the internet as the world's most comical super villain. What with having one of the largest militaries in the world, but also some of the hungriest citizens. As well as having all these secret tunnels dug under the Demilitarized Zone of the 38th parallel and just the sheer puffery of the nation.
However, for as much as we laugh at the antics of this recluse nation, wouldn't we all have egg on our faces if their seemingly empty threats did lead to a horrible bloody war. However, let us put that in the back of our minds, since it is usually in the front of the news these days, and entertain ourselves with some facts. Not all of these facts are particularly funny, but North Korea isn't just all internet memes of honorable leaders' face, it is also a destitute nation filled with starving citizens.
However, let's start off on a fun note. Before previous leader Kim Jong-Il's death, the government released his official biography. Kim Jong-Il was said to complete super human feats such as getting a perfect 300 his fist time bowling and shooting a 38 under par on the nation's only golf course before retiring because he could not get any better.
Of course, Kim Jong-Il was not birthed like any other mortal. He was born on Mount Baektu under a double rainbow. As he rend his mother's loins asunder, it is said that a new star appeared in the sky on that day.
He then learned to walk at three weeks old. As he grew older, he corrected his teacher during history lessons and went on to write 1500 books.
Kim Jong-Il was a great and powerful leader with many a super human talents, however he is also suspected of killing his younger brother by drowning him in a pool when he was five. However there are not any witnesses to this, probably.
Even with that alleged stain, no man can be perfect. Kim Jong-Il was also desperately afraid of flying. A fact that was well-known around the world. Instead of flying, he traversed his country via a series of 6 custom made armored trains with 20 different private train stations built just for him. These trains were equip with everything a famous movie star would need. Conference rooms, flat screen TVs, satellite phones, and of course fresh lobster and cognac.
Surely with such lavish transportation, average citizens of North Korea must be well taken care of as well. The World Food Programme estimates that 6 million of the 25 million people in North Korea are in need of food aid. Approximately one third of all children are chronically malnourished as well. An analysis of North Korean escapees suggest that since the Korea War, North Korean malnutrition has caused stunted growth making them an average of two inches shorter than their South Korean kin.
Most North Korean eat meals that consist of corn or kimchi, a spicy pickled cabbage.
Of course, starvation is always a worry when the average citizen earns about $3 dollars a month from the government. After a hard day of work, there is no television or internet to go home and relax with. However, it is unlikely the average citizen could afford it when you have to pay fees of electricity, heating and building materials for necessities like education and health care.
Though if you are a child, it is probably best you avoid the education system. Some parents bribe teachers to keep quiet about them keeping their children out of school. When a child attends school, they must pay fees for heating and electricity, provide their own desk and chair, and in some schools their education is essentially just producing goods for the government without pay.
On the upside, marijuana is completely legal in North Korea. So there is always that. However if you are caught rolling a smokeable with a newspaper with any of the previous honorable leaders faces on it, you will earn yourself a trip to one of North Korea's many prison camps. Prison camps house around 150,000 to 200,000 people. 40% of those that go there die of malnutrition or exhaustion from mining, agriculture, or logging.
With the risk of starvation, prison, or death surely no foreigners would want to actually defect and live there, right? Wrong! Since the Korean War, 6 American soldier crossed the DMZ and pledged allegiance to the country. This does not even count those who choose to stay after being interned in POW camps during the war. The most famous defect is American James Joseph Dresnok, who ran across the DMZ minefield in 1962 and never looked back. He is a regular actor in the countries propaganda films as villainous American characters. He lives in the country with his third wife and 4 children and claims he regrets nothing! Of course, do you really want to claim you do regret it?
No one cares about the average citizen or those that defected in North Korea, though. It is all about honorable leader! North Korea has recently gotten a new one. After Kim Jong-Il's death, his youngest son Kim Jong-Un took up the sword of leadership of his father. However, he was not first in line.
Originally, Kim Jong-Il had groomed his eldest son Kim Jong-Nam to lead after his death. However, in 2001 Kim Jong-Nam was arrested in Japan for trying to use a fake Dominican passport with the Chinese name Pang Xiong, which translates into something similar to "Fat Bear". Why? Well, he admitted that he just wanted to go to Disneyland. That's right, Dominican passport, Chinese name, going to Disneyland. I think Kim Jong-Nam would have made North Korea a lot more fun. This caused his father Kim Jong-Il to disinherit him out of embarrassment.
However, Kim Jong-Un was still not rightfully next in line. Kim Jong-Chul was thought to be next in line. However, Kim Jong-Il's personal sushi chef wrote in his memoirs that he believed Il to favor his youngest son because Kim Jong-Chul was very...girly.
The new North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was once thought to be more reasonable than his father because of his education in a boarding school in Switzerland. Nope! He had the chance to reunite the estranged countries of North Korea and South Korea, but nope! Not much is known about the new leader other than the fact that he likes to make threats like his father. During his time in boarding school, his classmates say that he was not particularly smart or interested in his studies at all. Though he loves basketball and Michael Jordan. He was also once caught with a bondage magazine. Those are things you just love to hear about the new leader of a country with nuclear arms.
Recently there have been reports that Kim Jong-Un is not as in charge of his country as he wants us to think. South Korean intelligence says that there was an attempt on Un's life which resulted in an action movie-esque firefight in downtown Pyongyang. This was believed to be an agry backlash over the demotion of the loyal general Kim Yong-Chol. After the attempt, the general was reinstated.