HomeAbout KoreaWhat Are Living Conditions Like In North Korea?

Journalists constantly state about dire living conditions in North Korea, a repressive authoritarian county of the world. As per the secretive police reports, the North Korean government charges chronic human right abuse against the residents and the government barely provides food to its own people.

As per UN Commission Inquiry Report of 2014, several human rights abuses have been recorded in North Korea which includes sexual abuse, forceful abortion, torture, extortion, enslavement, murders, burglary, imprisonment etc.

The government holds unquestionable dominance over the people via public executions, forced labour, restricted travel and holy persecution. The residents of North Korea do not have any basic freedom like political opposition, freedom to express, assembly or media independence.

Living conditions in North Korea majorly include deprivation.  The top ruling class has the basic amenities of modern like cars, coffee, mat, proper sanitation, housing and other luxurious items.

The middle class gets sufficient food, lodging and occasional new clothes. But still people struggle to survive. And, the remaining half of the people which is 24 million population reside in extreme poverty. The annual GDP of North Korea is $1800 making it stand at the 197th position in the world.

Over 1/3rd of the kids of North Korea suffer from malnutrition. For a lot of people, meat appears to be an unaffordable food. They majorly survive on fermented cabbage, corn, porridge and rice. Most of the homes do not have light and are heated by open fireplace.

Some of the houses do not even have the basic facility of flush toilets. Electricity is just for the few fortunate masses and for them also it is highly unreliable and sporadic. Power is available just for a few hours and people use cell phone flashlights during load shedding.

In theory, healthcare and education are free in the nation, but school kids have to provide money for chairs, building material, chair and electricity. Patient have to support their medication, pay for heat and get their meals cooked at home.

Only 41% of the urban population gets access to electricity. Though North Korea has sufficient telephone system but not all the population has access to it. Only 14% of the North Koreans have cellular service.

Though there isn’t any data about the people who fall below the poverty line and unemployment but as per the reports of 2013, it is estimated at 25.6%. Freedom of information doesn’t exist here.

North Koreans have no access to the internet and it is highly under the control of government. The state controls all the media outlets and viewing, hearing or talking about unauthorized content is regarded as a crime here.

The government uses songbun to segregate people in three sections: hostile, wavering and loyal. The categories figure in to a person’s education, living opportunities and employment chances.

Still the living condition in North Korea is changing, especially for the elite class. As per the South Korea Central Bank, the nation showed a growth of 4% in 2016.

How The Life in North Korea Is: Why it’s Different from Normal?

The North Koreans get very rare opportunities to speak to foreigners and even when they get in labour camps, they have the risk of landing into trouble if caught saying the wrong thing.

Basically the life in North Korea is a lot different from the other parts of the world from the very start when after the World War II, the Korean Peninsula was parted in two worlds.

While one fell in the control of South Korea, North Korea came in the leadership of Kim II- sung who adopted diplomatic isolationism policy to lower down the impact of the outside world on his nation.

However, this policy massively contributed to the lower living conditions of the people here.

Thus, people live a very restricted life here under the dominance of military checkpoints. You cannot leave an area without their permission. In regional cities, military personnel stroll across the cities. People do not gather to socialise and you hardly notice any car here.

Regardless of what has type of life has been forced on these North Koreans, one cannot really understand what their life is, surviving in a completely Republican nation.

However, despite their agony and pain, they do smile and dance of on rhythms and celebrate festivities and culture.

Weird North Korean Laws and Rules that Makes the Life Miserable

Apart from suffering from economic hardships, drought and famine under the leadership of Kim il Sung, Kim II Sung and Kim Jong-un, the lives of these people still stays in misery and mystery.

Here are some rules and laws which further makes their life miserable.

  1. The newlyweds have to first visit Kim II-sung. There isn’t no honeymoon for the couples.
  2. Military service is compulsory. The Democratic People Republic of Korean has a law that every person has to do military service.
  3. You need permission for electricity usage. It is illegal to use a microwave.
  4. Mothers should birth alone. Once the child is born, mothers do not have the permission to see their family.
  5. You don’t have the freedom to socialise with South Koreans.
  6. If triplets are born in your family, they should be given to the state.
  7. You need permission to live in the capital.
  8. You should have a specific haircut. There are 28 government sanctioned hairstyles which men and women should follow.
  9. There is a dress code which you need to follow.
  10. Owning a Bible isn’t legal. In this nation, freedom to follow a religion is non-existent.
  11. It is illegal if you don’t vote in North Korea.
  12. Only male government personnel can own a car and drive it.
  13. Residents are organized as per the caste system.


These are some highly dictatorship laws and regulations of the Korean government.

If you don’t follow them then you have to suffer from a government execution and imprisonment. The life conditions are miserable, however there is scope of improvement and efforts are being made.

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