A hermit kingdom run by a totalitarian leader who wields absolute powers, North Korea is what Russia was under Stalin. It is a country where you cannot really know what it offers and even though the government paints a different picture of the country being open to tourists, North Korea has never been the same since Korean War ended 60 years back. Compared to her southern neighbor, South Korea the northern republic has often been isolated in the international stage only keeping close to her allies considered to be pro-Communism.
The North Korean society is not that open and in a state where even the top authority in the land has a grip on the lives of its ordinary citizens, things are different especially compared to a more westernized country. In recent years, the state of affairs in the country has improved with more tourists being encouraged to visit the country. Under the leadership of Kim Jong Un, Kim Jong Il’s son, the North Korean government is slowly offering a friendly hand to other nations. North Koreans are being encouraged to adopt things you would only associate with capitalism. Now you can find many computers in some buildings in the capital Pyong Yang and other cities. These are machines that were forbidden. Internet accessibility is however still limited. Centers like the North Hamgyong Provincial E-Library, offer North Korean students with an opportunity to use computers and other Microsoft features.
When it comes to technology, the North Koreans have made a significant steps in terms of mobile connectivity. They still lag behind to their South Korean counterparts where almost everyone owns a mobile phone but slowly more North Koreans are acquiring handsets. Sixty years after the war that divided the two countries in the Korean peninsula. Now many people can buy Smartphones and tablets and use them over a 3G network that covers the whole country. Smartpohones can be found in various upscale shops in North Korean cities. Android tablets are also available. Like other Smartphones, most of these android devices have internet browsers. There is however no Wi-Fi system. Most android handsets have Korean-English dictionaries and e-books that praise the ruling Kim family and the communist government. For international calls, most Network providers in North Korea offer 2G Network services. This is a good sign as the country looks to gain lost ground and keep up with the rest of the world.
Things have however remained dire especially when it comes to human rights matters. Nothing has changed much after the death of Kim Jung Il, the father of the current leader. Cases of wrongful detention, torture, arbitrary arrest and ill-treatment of political detainees are still common. Human rights leaders all over the world have remained hopeful but there is nothing positive in sight yet. The rights of many North Koreans have been and are being violated and with no international watch dog in the country it is not easy to know the facts. Such problems continue to haunt the People’s Democratic Republic of North Korea as the government is not keen on ending such atrocities.
Much has been said about the North Korean government but less information is given about the ordinary North Koreans. Even the tourists who are allowed in the country interact less with the people. According to the North Korean authorities, tourists cannot take pictures of the locals without their consent. The main reasoning behind this may be mere propaganda where the North Korean leadership only wants Western tourists to see exactly what they want them to see. A tourist can take photos of smiling locals gathered in neat homes but it is rare to see something negative about an ordinary North Korean put in picture form. This has not deterred tourists from visiting the country with increased numbers of westerners going to the socialist nation. This has increased the country’s revenue which the tourist officials attribute to its efforts in portraying the country as a safe and friendly tourist destination.
Food shortage has been common problem in North Korea and it seems that the revenue gained from tourism cannot stem this. This has further led to deterioration of the healthcare system. Despite all this, in some sections of the Pyong Yang the North Korean capital, people seem to enjoy high living standards. In a center like Rason where an economic zone modeled to the Chinese systems was established, North Koreans are economically empowered. This may however not be the case in other least developed parts on the country. Generally, much remain to be seen of the North Korean situation going into the future.
Population of country 24.76 million people (2012)
Area of North Korea 120,540 sq. kilometers
Located on the continent Asia (AS)
Capital of North Korea Pyongyang
Currency at North Korea Won (KPW)
Domain Zone .kp
Phone country code 850
FIPS code of North Korea KN