With North Korea making headlines on a near-daily basis, US relations are on edge (to put it nicely). But what do we know about the socialist state? Books such as The Korean Crisis, seek to answer some of our questions about the history and current status of North Korea, but it’s near impossible to cover it all.
Here are some facts you may not know about the isolated country and its democratic neighbor to the south:
- Abandoned, homeless children, called kotjebi, literally “flowering swallows,” are commonplace in North Korea, numbering in the thousands. They survive by foraging through garbage, begging, and thievery.
- On July 26 and 27, 2017, North Korea celebrated the 64thanniversary of the Korean people’s victory in the “Fatherland Liberation War,” marking the bitter defeat imposed upon the United States in the Korean War.
- After Sony Pictures released The Interview, a comedy movie in which a tabloid reporter is led to assassinate Kim Jong Un, North Korean cyber hackers made an attack against Sony revealing many private communications within the company to the public.
- North Korea is home to the world’s largest art studio, the Mansudae Art Studio. It has a labor force of 4000 workers, a fourth of whom are artists. It produces the huge monuments honoring the Kims that are on display throughout the country. It also markets art objects throughout the world by means of a website.
- Air Koryo is the call name of North Korea’s civilian air fleet. It consists of four aircraft. Two are AN-148 regional passenger jets produced by the Antonov corporation in the Ukraine. Two are Tupolev TU-204, narrow bodied twin jets that were built in Russia.
- Kim Il Sung’s embalmed body is on display in a clear glass sarcophagus in Kumsusan Palace of the Sun, located in Pyongyang, Nearby is the more recent body of Kim Jong Il, likewise on display. Foreign visitors may access the palace on Thursdays and Sundays.
- In North Korea, the accordion is known as the “people’s instrument.” For prospective schoolteachers part of their final examination requires the candidates to demonstrate competency on the instrument. Go to YouTube for videos of North Korean accordion players.
There is occasional athletic competition between teams from North and South Korea. In 2017, competing national women’s soccer teams played to a 1-1 tie in Pyongyang. In ice hockey, played in a Gangneung, South Korea, the South Korean women won by 3-1.
- South Korea has successfully conducted freely contested democratic presidential elections since 1987. Presidents serve a single five-year term of office.
- Park Geun-hye, elected president of South Korea in 2012, was impeached by the National Assembly in December 2016 for assisting a close associate in corruption. The impeachment was approved by a vote of 234-56. The decision was upheld by the Constitutional Court of Korea on a vote of 8-0. Following the peacefully conducted process, Moon Jae-in was elected to succeed Park.
For more fascinating details about the Koreas, check out The Korean Crisis, available through WildBlue Press.