North Korea Luciano Ramirez
Population • The estimated population of North Korea is 22,757,275. • The median age is 33.9 years. • The life expectancy is 61.53 years. • Almost all are ethnic Koreans. • There are very small Chinese and Japanese minorities.
Language • The official language of North Korea is Korean. • There are almost no linguistic minorities in North Korea.
Religion • There are Christian, Confucianist, and Buddhist sects in North Korea. • There are no autonomous or independent religious organizations • All religious groups are state sponsored to provide the illusion of religious freedom.
Food • North Korean food includes typical Korean cuisine. • Kimchi, a dish made out of spiced pickled cabbage , is the staple food of the Korean people. • Another popular food is banchan, made out of the vegetable of the same name, with cabbage, radish, or cucumbers. • Even with the severe shortage of food in North Korea, there people still make traditional dishes.
Economy • The North Korean economy is one of the most centralized and least open in the world. • The economy of North Korea faces chronic problems, such as lack of capital, rampant inflation, supply shortages, food shortages, and underinvestment. • Its GDP is $28 billion (2009 est.) • Its primary industry is the manufacturing of military products. • Others include machine building, chemicals, and the mining of various minerals. • China is its chief trading partner and supplier.
Education • It is mandatory for all children to attend school. • Students are taught about Juche, politically correct vocabulary, and revolutionary rhetoric in order to be indoctrinated. • The limiting of vocabulary and education by the state has turned even uneducated North Koreans into loyal servants of the government. • People background usually determines whether or not they attend college. The children of Party members and military officers usually do.
Family and Marriage • Marriage between members of the ruling class and the lower classes is highly frowned upon. • Weddings are only mere ceremonies. There is no party, feast, or honeymoon. • The domestic unit is the nuclear family. • Since most North Koreans have small living spaces, having larger families are restricted.
Greetings and Gestures • Handshakes are common greetings, so are bowings. • The younger or lower-status person always bows first. • The most common greeting is Annyonghaseyo? (literally, “Are you at peace?”) • Different variations of the above phrase are used depending on the person. • Touching between strangers is considered to be rude. • Sitting in a relaxed manner is considered rule. • One never looks a superior in the eye.
Holidays • The following is a list of North Korean holidays, most political in nature and several are centered around Kim Il Sung and his family: • People’s Day (Feb. 8) • Kim Jong Il’s Birthday (Feb. 16) • Kim Il Sung’s Birthday (Apr. 15) • May Day (May 1) • Young Pioneer’s Day (Jun. 6) • National Foundation Day (Sep. 9) • Workers’ Party Day (Oct . 10)
National Symbolism • North Korea’s current flag and state seal were created in 1948. • The national anthem is “Aegukka” (“The Song of Patriotism”), although songs praising Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il have largely replaced it. • North Koreans are strongly loyalty to Kim Il Sung’s family, and worship and the state. • On public occasions North Koreans wear a ‘Kim Il Sung badge’, which they wear on their chests as a sign of loyalty to the government. • Almost impossible to see North Koreans without their badge.
The Arts • Production of arts and literature is completely controlled by the state. • Film industry is more developed than literature because of Kim Jong Il’s involvement. • Literature is produced by state officials, and tends to be pedantic, predictable, and completely boring. • In North Korean novels, human relationships are oversimplified and then overshadowed by people’s servitude to the state and leader. • Characters are almost never unique in most novels.
The Arts (cont.) • Graphic art in North Korea is a mixture of traditional art and Western art. • Large murals of Kim Il Sung can be found in Pyongyang, to which people practically gather and worship. • There are statues depicting war heroes from WW2 and the Korean War. • Many more statues, paintings, and sculptures present Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s family. • Sin Sang-ok and Ch'oi Un-hui are North Korea’s most famous directors. They have produced many films such as The Blanket and Heroes without Name.
Architecture • North Korea is mostly rural • Basic facilities such as running water and electricity are usually undeveloped and nonexistent for most of population. • The capital, Pyongyang, is filled with many austere buildings, traffic-less roads, and clean streets. • Back streets in Pyongyang are dirty and crowded. • Many golded statues of Kim Il Sung dot capital. • Notable buildings include People’s Study Hall, Pyongyang Grand Theatre, Children’s Palace, Mansudae Art Hall, Korean Revolutionary Museum, and Kim Il Sung University. • City dwellers live in apartment buildings. • Individual houses with basic commodities are reserved for Party members.
Sports and Recreation • Soccer is North Korea’s national sport, although volleyball is played more often. • Table tennis and basketball are also popular. • Sunday is the worker’s day of rest. • Television is very popular and widely available, although there is strict control on TV channels and content.