15 fascinating facts about North Korea

Step Back in Time in North Korea

Everyone has heard a thing or two about North Korea.

The country frequently makes headlines, with recent notable examples such as its support of Donald Trump and its claims about planning to travel to the moon.

But some of its actions aren't quite so benign, including the recent firing of ballistic missiles into the sea.

The rest of the world has become increasingly responsive to the country's more threatening actions. In July, the US agreed to equip South Korea with its most advanced missile defense system. A month later, Japan ordered its military to be ready at any time to shoot down North Korean missiles.

No one seems to know what North Korea will do next or what's actually going on inside the country, as data isn't readily available or reliable. But there are some strange statistics and fun facts that lend perspective to the Hermit Kingdom.

North Koreans born after the Korean War are about 2 inches shorter than South Koreans on average.


"Analysis of escapees from North Korea shows that those born after the Korean War in the late 1950s were on average about 2 inches shorter than South Koreans," USA Today reported in 2013.

Source: USA Today

North Korea created its own time zone: Pyongyang Time.


Last year, North Korea created its own time zone, called Pyongyang Time, named after the North Korean capital, which is 30 minutes behind South Korea and Japan.

The country started using Pyongyang Time on August 15, 2015, to celebrate the 70th anniversary of Korea's liberation from Japan. Pyongyang Time was the time zone used before Japanese rule.

Source: Business Insider

Kim Jong Un ordered all male citizens to copy his haircut.


"A source from Pyongyang" told South Korea's The Chosun Ilbo that authorities issued an order requiring men to keep their hair no longer than 2 centimeters and requiring women to keep their hair at a bob length.

The men were told to model their hairstyle on Kim Jong Un, whose haircut is known as "ambitious" in North Korea (and terrible everywhere else). Women were advised to copy his wife.

Source: The Chosun Ilbo

It costs $8,000 to defect from North Korea.


Since Kim Jong Un took power, it has gotten more expensive to defect from the hermit kingdom.

It cost about $8,000 to get to China last year, which is far more than the average North Korean can afford, considering the gross domestic product per capita was estimated to be $1,800 in 2014.

Source: Business Insider

Kim Jong Il's annual cognac expense was about 500 times the average North Korean's annual income.


Kim Jong Il, the father of Kim Jong Un, reportedly spent £700,000 on Hennessy each year. That's about $913,000 at today's exchange rate; Kim Jong Il died in 2011.

The average annual income in North Korea according to a 2013 estimate, is thought be $1,000 to $2,000.

Source: BBC

Bill Gates' net worth is four and a half times as large as North Korea's estimated GDP.


Bill Gates' net worth at the time of publication was estimated at $78.2 billion.

Trading economics estimates North Korea's gross domestic product to be $17.4 billion. (The World Bank does not list an official figure.)

Source: Trading Economics

If North Korea's capital were a US city, it would have the fourth-biggest population.


The population of Pyongyang is 2.863 million, according to 2015 estimates.

That figure would bump Houston, which had an estimated 2015 population of 2.3 million, down to fifth place.

Source: CIA Factbook

North Korea scored a goal against Brazil in the 2010 World Cup.


But it still lost, 2-1.

Source: FIFA

North Korea is about the size of Pennsylvania ...


Pennsylvania is 46,054 square miles, or 119,279 square kilometers.

North Korea is 120,538 square kilometers.

Source: CIA Factbook

... but less than 20% of its land is arable. That's about the size of New Hampshire's land area.


Only 19.5% of North Korea's land is arable, which amounts to about 9,000 square miles.

New Hampshire's land area is 8,953 square miles.

Source: CIA Factbook

North Korea says it has a 100% literacy rate.


The CIA World Factbook defines literate people as those ages 15 and over who can read and write.

North Korea has self-reported its literacy rate as 100% for both men and women.

Source: CIA Factbook

Less than 3% of roads in North Korea are paved.


There are 25,554 kilometers of roads in North Korea, but only 724 kilometers are paved. That's only 2.83% of all roadways.

Source: CIA

In fact, while all of North Korea's roads could circle Pluto 3 1/2 times, the paved roads alone would cover only the distance between New York and Cleveland.


The circumference of Pluto is 7,445 kilometers, which means you could wrap North Korea's 25,554 kilometers of roads around it over three times.

But the 450 miles of paved roads isn't even enough to cover the 463 miles between New York and Cleveland.

Source: CIA

Qatar's GDP per capita is more than 73 times that of North Korea.


At $132,100, Qatar's GDP per capita was the highest in the world in 2015.

North Korea's 2014 estimated GDP per capita was $1,800.

Source: CIA

North Korea was recently named the most corrupt country in the world — tied with Somalia.


According to the 2015 Corruption Perceptions Index, North Korea and Somalia are tied for the title of the most corrupt nation.

Scores between zero (highly corrupt) and 100 (very clean) were given to 174 countries and territories.

North Korea scored an 8.

Source: CPI 2015

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