North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un, 36, may be in critical condition after undergoing heart surgery and the US official is seeking details. CNN had previously reported that he could be in grave danger. One of the US officials noted that the White House received information that Kim had undergone surgery last week, which went downhill. However, a spokesman for the South Korean presidential office said there was no confirmation on the speculation. Reuters reported that Kim was not seriously ill, according to the Chinese Communist Party's International Liaison Department.
The North Korean leader's health is not the only closely guarded issue in the isolated nation. North Korea is a totalitarian regime that plays by different rules than the rest of the world. The nation holds many secrets and has many unusual laws that will make you thank the universe that you don't live there. Some of them are below:
Listening to foreign music or watching movies in a foreign language are considered criminal activities. In 2015, Kim Jong Un issued an edict to remove all cassette tapes and CDs containing state-banned music to curb dissent. The penalty depends on where the film originates from: anyone who watches an American film can be executed, while watching an Indian film can lead to jail time. The distribution of pornography can also lead to the death penalty.
Making international calls is a crime. In 2007, a man making multiple international calls was murdered.
Falling asleep in a meeting while Kim is speaking could result in the death penalty. North Korean Defense Minister Hyon Yong-chol was executed in 2015 with an anti-aircraft gun in front of more than 100 people for falling asleep during one of Kim Jong Un's events.
Anything that disrespects Kim Jong Un's family, the North Korean government, or politicians is considered an act of blasphemy and can be severely punished. In January, a mother was reportedly arrested for trying to save her children instead of ex-president Kim Il-sung's portrait in a living hell. Not even dusting your portrait is enough to make you guilty; so each family receives a special duster.
Only male government officials are allowed to drive. Women cannot drive, even if they work as traffic officers. Government restrictions allow only one in a hundred people to own a car.
On July 8, when North Korean President Kim Il-sung died in 1994, smiling is strictly prohibited. It is forbidden to talk loudly, dance or drink alcohol on this day. Breaking the rules can lead to people being forced into labor camps or being killed. Kim Il-sung's body is kept in a glass tomb and tourists must bow down at his feet.
Marijuana use is accepted and, unlike most of the world, the trade and consumption of the drug is not punishable by law.
People are not allowed to wear jeans as it is considered a symbol of capitalism. Women who wear skirts must cover their knees. The use of bikinis is strictly prohibited.
North Korea only offers three TV channels for people to choose from and they are all controlled by the government.
North Koreans are not allowed to travel abroad without permission. People who try to escape are sent to forced labor camps or simply executed.
The Internet is only accessible through its intranet, called "Kwangmyong" or Bright, which was launched in 2000. For professional use, only 28 websites are accessible under government supervision. The list of people with Internet access includes political leaders and their families, students attending elite schools, and the military's cyber warfare department. Only the state-approved operating system Red Star OS designed in Korean is allowed to be used and not standard Windows or Mac. The use of Wi-Fi has been banned in all North Korean embassies around the world.
The choice of a person's profession is decided by the government based on the needs of the country. Those who do not comply are sent to concentration camps for forced labor.
In 2013, Kim Jong Un published a list of haircuts allowed in the country. There are 28 state-approved hairstyles (18 for women, 10 for men) that people can keep.
The government chooses where people can live based on their relationship with the state. Living in the capital Pyongyang requires permission from the government.
Citizens cannot have the same name as the current president. So everyone called Kim had to change their names.
All citizens over the age of 17 must vote in elections. Elections are held to choose the leaders of the parties that will run the country, except there is usually one candidate!
An entire family can be punished if one person commits suicide. If an individual commits a crime, he punishes three generations of his family.
Film director Shin Sang-ok and his wife, actress Choi Eun-hee, are believed to have been kidnapped in 1978 for inducing creativity in North Korean films. Later, in 1986, the couple gradually gained the dictator's trust and ran away during a trip to Austria to promote North Korean films.
While the rest of the world overcame prejudices of various kinds, modern North Korean society was divided into three castes—central, wavering, and hostile—in 1957 by Kim Il-sung. Those loyal to the elite, including the Kim family, are under the 'core' group, and those considered less loyal under the 'hostiles', considered enemies of the state, including lawyers, landlords and Christian ministers. The undecided were "hesitant." This includes families of artisans, merchants, returnees from China, and intellectuals educated under Japanese rule.
The North Korean Juche calendar is based on Kim II-sung's date of birth: April 15, 1912.
North Korea cuts power every night due to the country's energy crisis. Using electricity needs a permit and owning a microwave is illegal!
Children who attend school must have their own desks and chairs, others are forced to do hard work for the government.
In 2008, citizens were asked to donate their feces to help with agriculture when South Korea cut off fertilizer supplies.
Spend 20% of your GDP on the military when the population is desperate for food.
The newlyweds are expected to visit the Kim II-sung statue after the official ceremony. Walking down the aisle is not allowed on any of Kim Jong Un and Kim II-sung's birthdays.
Military service is compulsory for men (10 years) and women (7 years).
Mothers cannot give birth if someone is around and must go into labor alone. They are not allowed to join the family or even the husband for a week after the delivery. If triplets are born, they are turned over to the state, as there are reports of concerns about the low birth rate in North Korea. They are returned upon reaching four years of age.
Sunday is collective work day: all cleaning is done by hand and no tools are allowed.