To the West, North Korea is something of a curiosity, a relic of a bygone era, but for the people who reside there, it’s a brutal place to live.
From state-mandated haircuts to being arrested for the crime of stealing a sign, North Korea basically takes every horrible totalitarian stereotype and dials it up to 11.
Here are just a few of the country’s most bizarre and brutal laws.
Your Haircut Must Be Government Approved
Back in 2013, North Korea’s hair-brained leader, Kim Jong-Un, brought in one of the strangest laws ever. He decreed that there are only 28 government approved hair styles that men and women can get.
To be specific, there are 10 for men and 18 for women. Strangely though, the lardy leader’s own unique slicked back style isn’t on the list, which just seems unfair.
Spiked hair is explicitly banned, presumably because it’s rebellious, or maybe hair wax is just rare in the despotic North.
The Government Decides Who Live In The Capital
According to North Korean defectors, Kim Jong-Un likes to blur the lines between fiction and reality, implementing some strange Sci-Fi vetting process for the capital city.
Basically, if you want to live in Pyongyang and don’t have express permission from the government, then you’re out of luck.
The city is apparently reserved for the most successful, and more importantly loyal, people. Which isn’t surprising when you consider housing assignments are decided by the government.
It’s kind of like The Capital in the Hunger Games but without the bloodsport… we hope.
You Have to Vote
Somewhat shockingly, elections are held every five years in North Korea – it is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea after all.
Less surprisingly, however, no-one ever runs against the Kim family and, the few times there has been an opposition, there’s no doubt it’s been a political actor getting paid to lose.
You Have To Watch State TV
Rather unsurprisingly, North Korea’s not too big on keeping its people up to date on current affairs and only allows the broadcast of three television channels.
You won’t be catching up on Game of Thrones in the country either, as all programming is strictly controlled by the government.
This, of course, includes a daily and nightly dose of propaganda. Sorry, we mean domestic and international ‘news’…
Owning a Bible is Illegal
The Holy Bible is considered a symbol of Western culture in North Korea and is a guaranteed way to get yourself swiftly imprisoned, or worse, executed.
You see, in North Korea, the only God is the government and, according to propaganda, the ruling Kim family have God-like powers.
It was said that the country’s last dictator, Kim Jong-Il, was born with magical powers, such as the ability to control the weather using his mind.
Oh, and North Korean legend claims that his birth on the slopes of Baekdu Mountain was foretold by a swallow and heralded by a double rainbow. To top it off, when he was born, a new star appeared in the night sky.
Unfortunately, while this is obviously horse-shit, state sponsored propaganda has drilled it into a lot of people in North Korea.
Pray You’re Never Sent To Prison, For Your Family’s Sake
As strange as North Korea’s laws are, this one is less weird and more brutal.
In North Korea, if you commit a crime and try and escape your hideous prison camp, leaving your family behind, your entire bloodline for three generations – grandparents, parents, and children – are punished.
The strict and bloody law is designed to try and prevent individuals from attempting to escape from prison.
This ‘law’ is considered so barbaric that the United Nations has even debated whether or not the North Korean government is actually committing crimes against humanity, with rumours of mass starvation and confirmed slavery at labour prison camps.
More of a concept than a journalist, Tom Percival was forged in the bowels of Salford University from which he emerged grasping a Masters in journalism.
Since then his rise has been described by himself as ‘meteoric’ rising to the esteemed rank of Social Editor at UNILAD as well as working at the BBC, Manchester Evening News, and ITV.
He credits his success to three core techniques, name repetition, personality mirroring, and never breaking off a handshake.