August 10th, 2017
North Korea is taking center stage in world news, again. By isolating and cutting itself off from the rest of the world, North Korea has been a land of mystery and curiosity to the outside world. Unfortunately, the country has also harbored and covered up unimaginable atrocities against its people and continues to terrorize its neighboring countries and the world with its terrifying weapons programs. As tensions escalate, here are a few facts on the hermit nation:
1. Official name: Democratic Republic of Korea
2. Population: 25,115,311 (estimated as of July 2016)
3. Geography: North Korea has an area of 46,000 similar in size to Pennsylvania is 46,054 square miles, or 119,279 square kilometers.
4. Capital: Pyongyang.
Pyongyang, North Korea
5. Quick History: Japan controlled the Korean Peninsula from 1910 till end of WWII. After WWII, the U.S. occupied the southern half of the peninsula and the Russians occupied the north half. In 1945, Kim Il-Sung became the country’s first leader and since then the country has been led by three generations of the same family. In 1948, unable to resolve regional differences, the country split into the north and the south each with its own government. When North Korea invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950, the United Nations intervened with troops. The war with North Korea continued until 1953 when a peace treaty was signed and the two regions officially broke apart to form two countries: North Korea (Democratic Republic of Korea) and South Korea (Republic of Korea).
6. Head of State: North Korea is led by Kim Jong-un since the death of his father in 2011.
7. Calendar: North Korea uses an official Juche calendar based on Kim Il-Sung’s date of birth which is April 15, 1912. The year 2012 on the Gregorian calendar is considered Juche 101.
8. Literacy: According to the CIA World Factbook, North Korea claims 100% literacy rate for both men and women.
9. Music: The accordion is considered the “people’s instrument” because its portable and can be taken when doing a day of labor in the fields. Every teacher in North Korea is required to play the accordion.
10. Type of Schools: There are three types of schools in North Korea which include the general school system, schools for continuing education, and schools for special purposes.
11. General School System: Covers kindergarten, elementary schools, secondary schools, and higher education. Kindergarten is two years, begins at age four and is free and compulsory. Elementary starts at age six and four years. Secondary schools is 6 years and divided into two levels: lower-level middle schools which is for ages 10-13 and is four years; followed by higher-level high school which is for ages 14-15 and is two years.
12. Continuing Education: North Korea puts a lot of emphasis on continuing or adult education which is attached to farms, factories, and fishery cooperatives.
13. Special Purpose Schools: These schools are exclusively for talented and gifted children and children of the elite. Students join these schools from the age of 5. The program is 10 years in length. There are other special purpose schools for the arts and sports which admit students between 6 to 18 years of age. The special purpose schools for foreign languages admits students between 10 to 18 years of age. The schools for science admit students between 10 to 21 years of age.
14. Universities: North Korea has three main universities that students attend. These are Koryo Sungkyunkwan University, Kin Ch’aek Technical University, and Kim II Sung University.
15. Other Institutions of Higher Education: The University of Natural Science and the Kin Chaek University of Technology. Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies trains trade officials and working level diplomats and Kim Hyong Jik trains teachers.
16. Access to Higher Education: Students who complete secondary schools must be recommended in order to continue their studies at the university level. Only students who are highly loyal to the party and are from a desirable social class are given a recommendation by their instructors to progress to higher education. Students who do not get any recommendation are relegated to work in the mines and farms, or to join the military.
17. Higher Education: The General School System of academic higher education is for universities where students can pursue degree programs of four to six years in duration. University graduates can continue their studies at the master and doctoral level. Primary school teachers receive their training at Teacher’s Colleges which takes three years and those attending junior colleges complete three years of study.
18. Time Zone: On August 15, 2015, North Korea adopted its own time zone known as Pyongyang Time to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Korea’s liberation from Japan. It’s about 30 minutes behind Japan and South Korea.
19. Haircuts: North Korea has 28-state-approved haircuts, 18 for women and 10 for men:
20. Illegal & Legal: Blue jeans are illegal in North Korea as they are seen as symbols of American imperialism. But, cannabis/pot is legal in North Korea
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