Daily Life in North Korea


Hamhung soldiers - North Korea 

What is life like for the average North Korean in the world's most isolated country ?


North Korean society is effectively divided up into three levels based on perceived loyalties to the regime - loyal, neutral or hostile. Those deemed hostile, often with their entire family may end up in forced labor camps, executed or face severe restrictions. one can be deemed hostile based on family history, having South Korean relatives or having a family member cross illegally into China. this idea of collective family responsibility is nothing new and was practiced in ancient times in China ,Korea and Japan. The neutral are denied the better jobs, but are not generally persecuted. The loyal enjoy party membership, better jobs and a chance to live in Pyongyang.


 What life looks like inside North Korea  

Documentary 2016

Only the loyal can live in Pyongyang. All people are registered in Pyongyang with their reliability rating. People are monitored by the internal security police and attend near daily indoctrination and self-criticism meetings . All TVs and radios are constructed only to receive North Korean broadcast . Removing the frequency jammers can land one in a prison camp if caught. The VOA was allowed by the South Korean government to broadcast into North Korea from South Korea on the AM band in 2009.


The Public Security Agency (North Korean police force) and the National Security Bureau  secret police) were established  for the control of the North Korean. Higher level cadres are under surveillance much tighter than for ordinary citizenry, up to and including planting listening devices at home,  their every move being watched. This is done since Kim Jong-il suspected that the higher level cadres of being the most likely to foment rebellion


 North Korea 2012


Ownership of a cell phone was considered a crime in North Korea until recently. The Egyptian telecom company Orascom, which set up North Korea's first mobile network, estimates it has 809,000 subscribers in late 2011. International calls are forbidden .


Traditional seasonal holidays have been banned and replaced with holidays focusing on Kim Il Sung and the founding of the country. Confucianism, Chinese characters and ancestor worship were abolished. Loyality to the family has been replaced by loyalty to the Great Leader and the state.



 Life inside the North Korea

Sep 6, 2012


Disintegration of the "socialist ethic" has led to dramatic increases in crime starting in the late 1980s. Poverty and the famine of the 1990s remain the primary cause, coupled with "survive-at-all-cost" attitudes instilled into men during military service.

Most people work six days a week. Office workers are required to help in the fields at harvest and planting time. Sunday is a day of rest. In rural areas, food shortages are worse, with some eating grass and wild roots and losing hair and teeth due to malnutrition. The government rationing system began to shrink steadily after 1994, and people began to die of hunger by 1995. It is estimated that starvation has killed between 2~ 3 million North Koreans in the past decade.


While the Kim regime made great advances in the standard of living in the first decades after the Korean War, the collapse of communism , floods and large percent of the economy devoted to the military has resulted more and more North Koreans not being much better off now than those in the mid 1950s.


 Christians in North Korea

 Sep 19, 2011


All North Koreans must wear a loyalty badge . Many defectors recount that there is genuine affection for Kim Il Sung, but not so much for Kim Jong Il. Kim Jong Un was largely unknown until recently.Special permission is needed to leave one's area of residence. Religion has been proscribed since the 1950s. Christians meet in underground churches . The government has recently set up fake underground churches to catch Christians. Buddhism and traditional shamanism is still not allowed to be practiced. Religions are not tolerated as they are seen as encroaching on the 'divine' power of the Kims and the state ideology of juche. North Korea is the site of important Buddhist temples which still exist such as the Pyohon Temple at Myohyangsan . The native Korean religion of Cheondoism or Chondoism based on the Tonghak movement in the 19th century still exist with a few members in North Korea and has its own political party to maintain an illusion of religious freedom and  multi-party democracy .



Life in the People's Paradise of DPRK

 A video of a pretty Korean girl heaping praise on the socialist system of the DPRK has gone viral in recent months. Her message is clear: life in her country is a socialist paradise, while in West poverty and chaos are rampant. The young woman, Pak Jin Jun, introduces herself as a student at Pyongyang Teacher's University. Throughout the video, Pak's voiceover praises the Korean socialist system, which guarantees a life of happiness and serenity to all of its residents. Jubilant scenes depict the whole family clapping their hands and singing. A far cry, she tells us, from the misery of the capitalist world that conspires against the great Kim Jong-Il, and where the people kill themselves and die of hunger.

 Oct 29, 2010


 BBC Documentary A State of Mind.

 Jul 5, 2009




 Seoul Train, the gripping documentary exposé into the life-and-death struggle faced by North Korean refugees as they flee their homeland through China. SEOUL TRAIN combines vérité and hidden camera footage with personal stories and interviews to reveal the harrowing journey attempted by some 250,000 North Koreans, whose refugee status is not recognized by China. Their clandestine escape covers hundreds of miles of Chinese territory via an "underground railroad" of safe houses and hidden routes. If caught, the refugees - and the activists that help them - face imprisonment and possibly execution if captured and returned to North Korea. With rare and candid interviews with U.N., U.S., South Korean and Chinese officials, SEOUL TRAIN skillfully explores the geopolitical forces behind this crisis - with a human face.

 Jun 18, 2010


 Friends of Kim - Documentary  In 12 days the 22 participants of the march travel through a country full of monuments, propaganda and poverty. Friends of Kim is a film about idealism, trust and crime. What begins as a magical mystery tour ends in a road to claustrophobia.

 Jun 29, 2008


 Orphaned and homeless in North Korea

 Abandoned by her parents, Yoon Hee lived on the streets of North Korea

before she fled her homeland for a better life.

May 13, 2013


 Traveling to North Korea


 Mass Games