North Korea Bans: A Land of Bans and Isolation

Onur Kenar

Onur Kenar

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Today, there are many things that are considered forbidden and taboo. The prohibitions that are said to have emerged in the first place to protect people from the danger factors in their environment; It changes shape over time as a certain group imposes its power on society. Especially in some countries, these prohibitions, the boundaries of which are drawn by laws, are used as a means of control and pressure in others. One of the countries that use bans in this way is North Korea. The country, where punishments such as execution, deportation and being sent to concentration camps are applied as if it violated the first ban in history (apple), has a very closed life.

Let’s get to know North Korea first, then let’s take a brief look at the country’s bans.


What Kind of Country Is North Korea?

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North Korea or officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. The country that frequently comes to the fore in the media with its outrageous decisions is a small East Asian country. The capital of this state, which shares the Korean Peninsula with South Korea, is Pyongyang. After the Second World War, the north of the country was supported by the western states under the leadership of the Soviet Union and the south was supported by the United States, and the peninsula took its current shape.

Today, there is a planned economic system in North Korea, which is shown among the states that have adopted communism, and the lands in the country are cultivated collectively. There is a control system that is closely related to industrial enterprises. In other words, trade is in the hands of the state. Especially in the country where the public sphere, economy and communication channels are in the hands of the state, therefore, the bans turn into a pressure tool in the hands of the regime.

Before moving on to the prohibitions, it is necessary to give a short information. After the death of 70-year-old state leader Kim Jong-il on December 17, 2011, the Workers’ Party of Korea gave a message to the public to support the leader’s son and heir, Kim Jong-un. Of course, this was a mandatory message.


Mind-blowing North Korea Bans

1) Hair Fashion or What?

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We used to see the same view at the hairdressers we went to when we were little. The hair of the children who are seated on a plank placed on the chair because they are not tall enough, is always cut in the same way. Just as if a stone was put on his head and cut like that. This uniformity still continues in North Korea, regardless of male or female.

Since 2013, there are rules that women and men should pay attention to when cutting their hair in North Korea. Of course, these are enforced like laws rather than rules because there are penalties. In North Korea, 10 hairstyles for men and 18 for women have been determined by the state. It is compulsory for married women to use short hair, while singles can wear long hair.

It is a question mark how much the people of the country care about the hair ban imposed by North Korea on this issue, which reflects the character and spirit of the person, because there are even greater bans in the country that cause problems in people’s lives.


2) Stop! You Can’t Leave the Country

This is another strange ban among the North Korean bans. The closed culture of the country, of course, prevents contact with other cultures. As the surest solution to prevent this, the country does not allow its citizens to leave the country. If you are a North Korean citizen and decide to flee the country or travel to another country, the penalty will be death or deportation to a concentration/worker camp.


3) Respect Dad

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It is imperative to honor the memory of former leaders who died in North Korea. Yes, not to earn respect; must be given in an obligatory manner. For example, it is strictly forbidden to laugh on the death anniversaries of names like Kim Il-Sung who are considered important on the day of death. If the death date of former president Kim Il-Sung is July 8, it has been declared a day of national mourning in North Korea.

Maybe some of you remember. Most recently, when a head of state died in the country, the public willingly or forcedly shared pictures of them crying to the media. So the country continued to cry throughout the national mourning. For example, it is forbidden to speak loudly and laugh as a sign of respect on a special day such as July 8th. It is also forbidden to chew gum and engage in acts that show signs of exuberance.

Also of note, Kim Il-Sung is popularly referred to as his benevolent father. So it has an official name.


4) Welcome to the Single Channel Era!

Welcome to the single-channel eras of old. If you are planning to visit North Korea one day, forget about watching your favorite TV shows. There are no international television channels broadcasting in North Korea. All programs are state-controlled and broadcast on one of four state-controlled channels. Let’s move on to the content of these channels:

  • Two educational channels,
  • a main media channel,
  • There is also a sports channel.

People on these channels are trying to communicate by shouting, perhaps due to their culture.


5) Criticizing is a crime

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Along with all the prohibitions, of course, criticizing the government and state administrators seems to be a very big crime. For example, on July 8, you made a small criticism about the former president and it was heard. That’s when you say hello to a process that ends with labor camps and execution. In North Korea, as people are constantly trying to be kept under control, even the solution to ‘stress’ such as criticism takes place in your own head. Unless, of course, the prohibitions you are subject to do not limit your thoughts.


6) Spoiler, Free to Report

In fact, the whistleblowing and denunciation system, which is also seen as a rewarding mechanism, is seen as a freedom contrary to prohibitions. Especially in such oppressive states, these two ways seem to be a way to rise and progress. Long live the snake that does not touch me!


7) Tourist? Come of course!

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You might be following it at certain times, and the country allows a large number of people to enter North Korea. Let’s say you are one of this mass and you are called to North Korea. You can only roam in public areas where you are allowed. You can’t take photos and of course you are subject to the bans that the local people are exposed to. It does not mean that I should take my smartphone with me or watch TV after 12.


8) No Freedom of Religion

Quite interestingly, it is forbidden to practice any religion within the borders of North Korea. The head of state is the only truly divine being, and you are asked to worship this president. Although there are a few churches in Korea that were founded by the requests of other countries, they cannot be used as places of worship. These are ‘freedom’ monuments made just to look cute to the international public.

If you are caught in your home with the Qur’an or the Bible, you are also considered to have committed a crime. Being with any religious book is a sufficient excuse for being sent to the labor camps. For example, in 2013, 80 Christians gathered in a stadium in the country and were executed en masse.


9) Limited Use of Alcohol

Alcohol is consumed in the country only on certain days with the permission of the state. I mean, I’m out of work today, you can’t say it’s the weekend tomorrow and assign something double. If you are caught with alcohol in your home or anywhere you are, it is considered a crime. Let’s add that even on the certain days we mentioned, alcohol use can only be done by authorized people.


10) Timed Electricity

Electricity is allowed in North Korea only in certain areas where the government allows it. The use of electricity is therefore seen as limited use and is prohibited. If you are in the capital and you want to watch TV at 12 pm, you probably won’t find electricity to turn on the TV, let alone no one on the channel.


11) Participation in Democracy is Mandatory(!)

Are you 17 years old and a citizen of North Korea? You do not have a choice not to vote. According to the law, everyone who turns 17 is added to the voter list and everyone on this voter list must go to the ballot box. If you say you don’t want to vote, you are subject to a survey after the first voter list, and then your background.


12) It is forbidden to move to the capital

This is another strange ban among the North Korean bans. As we mentioned before, the capital of Korea is Pyongyang. Apart from problems such as the cost of each country’s capital, the problem of finding a house, etc., a ban has prevented him from moving to the North Korean capital. If you want to move to the capital of the country, you cannot move to the capital as you wish. According to the law, it is forbidden to move to the capital without permission.

In the capital of the country, there are only names close to power, people with certain social status and privileged people. In addition, barricades are in place to prevent North Koreans from roaming freely in the city and to prevent unauthorized movement. In other words, prohibitions end with physical interventions.


13) Smartphone & Computer Forbidden! No Internet

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Although the use of mobile phones is allowed in North Korea, unfortunately, the use of smartphones that can be used for real communication is prohibited. Only domestic calls can be made with the phones. If you are in an elite group that can have a computer, or a phone as well, if you use it to communicate abroad, woe to you.

However, of course, the use of the internet, which is the only miracle of communication, is among the prohibited things in the country. Information technologies are at the forefront of the forces that will both take a country to the top and sink it. Aware of this, Kim Jong-Un has banned the internet to support his regime. It can be used by a very narrow group of people on the Internet, just like phones and computers.

Let’s add some interesting information here. In a report published in 2016, it seems that only 28 people use the internet. In a country of 25 million people, only 28 people use the internet.


14) No More Traffic Troubles! Driving Prohibited

This is another strange ban among the North Korean bans. Driving in the country is a government-controlled activity. You are only allowed to drive with a special permit if you are male and a government official. If you have worked hard and somehow come to a position to buy a car, the car is not yours. You register the car you bought in the name of the state. If there is no registration in the name of the state, there is no car.


15) Call Me By My Name

In North Korea, it is forbidden to call the country North Korea. Yes, this is one of the North Korean Bans. Because according to them, there is only one Korea and they are the owners of this country. That’s why they see those in South Korea as enemies. The full name of the country for them is the Democratic Republic of Korea.


16) Listen To What I Listen To

Just as there are hair rules, there are also music listening rules in the country. Listen to music. One of the North Korean Bans. For example, you cannot open a Spotify playlist and listen to a random song. Instead, you have to listen to songs that the government has chosen for you and approved by the government.


17) You Can’t Know the President’s Birth Date

One of the 18 major sins in the country is the strict protection of the birth date of the head of state. No one knows the reason for this situation, which is counted as one of the North Korean Bans.

We have come to the end of a list full of prohibitions. You can find many different content related to these bans on different pages. Our hope is to have a world where no forbidden list has been made… Banned days.

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