North Koreans enjoy singing and karaoke They are largely cut off from international sports and entertainment. Beaches divided into "Mens" and "Womens" sections. Some playing entertaining but quite cruel carnival games at the Pyongyang zoo. There’s not much to do at night. Some hotels that cater to foreign visitors and Chinese businessmen have pool tables. There are some games arcades in Pyongyang with people playing pachinko. Many of the pachinko-parlors in Japan have connections with Pyongyang-connected gangsters.

Anna Parker of the Borgen Project wrote: “Despite difficult living conditions in North Korea, its people make the best of their circumstances. In some ways, their lives are not so different from those in democratic countries. North Koreans play video games and beach volleyball. They enjoy picnics complete with food, beer and karaoke. And of course, their teenagers take lots of selfies. Hope remains that the situation can improve so that all of its people can enjoy the living conditions that its wealthiest citizens currently do. [Source: Anna Parker, Borgen Project, March 27, 2018]

In an an article about a defector named Kang, Maya Oppenheim wrote in The Independent: “Despite coming from a middle-class family, for the most part, he says other activities were out of reach due to costliness. “There is one bowling alley in Pyongyang but I only went once because it was very expensive. They only accept American dollars which I had got from selling stuff on the black market,” he recalls. “Roller skating is popular but you can’t go on the streets and must go in a park. Ice-skating is also popular but there is only one place”. [Source: Maya Oppenheim, The Independent, September 9, 2016]

“While there were arcade type places where he would play video games, he says it would quickly get boring because the consoles were so outdated. When it came to birthdays, Kang would celebrate with all the usual fare - apart from cake. “South Koreans eat cake but that culture came from America, in North Korea there is no cake. But we would have food, drinking and singing and dancing all night and getting drunk and the party wouldn’t stop until sunshine”.

“Nevertheless in a country overwhelmed by electricity shortages, fun was often overshadowed by the threat of electricity vanishing and Kang says sometimes it was not possible to do stuff for days because there was no power. What’s more, he says if the government found you using heating during these periods, you could be sent to a Labour Camp.”

Teenager Trying to Have Fun in North Korea

Maya Oppenheim wrote in The Independent: Getting drunk with friends till dawn, going on dates to the cinema, playing too many video games. While these might sound like run-of-the-mill adolescent coming of age exploits, these activities took on a rather different form for Jimmin Kang in North Korea. Drinking with friends was overshadowed by the fear of talking about the regime, going to the cinema was blighted by not being able to kiss in public and having to watch one film six times because nothing else was showing. Video games were confined to an interminable cycle of Mario Kart played on 80s consoles. [Source: Maya Oppenheim, The Independent, September 9, 2016]

“Outside of office hours, Kang would then find ways to watch American and South Korean films under the radar of the authorities, watching everything from American action movies with Stephen Seigel to films with Jackie Chan and Bruce Lee. “You can be killed for watching American or South Korean films or dramas. You might say that’s crazy, but if people understand freedom or know how people in other countries live, it is dangerous for the government”. [Source: Maya Oppenheim, The Independent, September 9, 2016]

“Kang also passed the hours with his girlfriend. In the week they would go on walks alongside the riverside and on the weekends they would go the cinema. However, there was a limit to the intimacy of these dates. “You can’t kiss in public places, it’s not illegal but it’s not cultural practice,” he recalls. ”You’re also not supposed to have sex before you are married.” Inevitably, young people found ways of being intimate with each other. “Parents are often at work all day so couples will go to their house. When I was young a saw a couple having sex in the park”. Watching pornography was another sexual activity which was a no go. “I never watched porn there, it would have been really dangerous. Some people have pornography but if the government found them they would go directly to a camp.”

“After a long shift at work, Kang would often wind down with friends over beers or Suji, Korean vodka. “There were no nightclubs but there are bars where they only sell beer. Women are allowed but no children. It just looks like a normal bar but there is no music. I would go a lot in summertime, about twice a week, because it’s very hot so you want cold beer”.

Partying After a Military Parade in North Korea

Robert Foyle Hunwick wrote in The Atlantic: “Pyongyang’s usually quiet streets are filled with revelers on key dates for the regime. For a parade I visited on Victory Day, the July holiday commemorating the armistice between the two Koreas, people came decked in an array of styles, from the military’s oversized pomp, to ill-fitting short-sleeved safari shirts and baggy slacks, to bootleg versions of fancy labels like Lacoste, Dolce & Gabbana, and Dior — all convincingly faked by the Chinese. The unnamed “Draught Beer” tastes like “a pint of Boddington’s that’s been left in the fridge with a copper penny at the bottom of the glass.”[Source: Robert Foyle Hunwick, The Atlantic, September 4, 2013]

“When the tanks have all rolled off, though, the real celebrations begin. In homes and bars across the city, bottles of beer and soju are opened and shared. Driving around the big cities at night, one can sometimes spot clusters of men sinking pints at street bars. “People leave work and go home at five. The men will often come here, after they’ve been home, to drink,” a barmaid at the Taedonggang Number Three beer bar explained via a translator. “Later their wives will call to ask when they’re coming back.”

Most of this is off-limits to foreigners, who must attend pre-approved bars – but there are occasional glimpses permitted. While producing Mass Games documentary A State of Mind in 2003, the physicist father of one of the film’s subjects, gymnast Song Yon Kim, took Koryo Tours’ Nick Bonner and crew out for a beer. It was, Bonner says, “one of the coolest bars in the world. There was a seat left empty where Kim Il Sung once sat. Otherwise, drinking was the same as in any country. Social drinking, chatting, and joke telling… we renamed the pub the Red Lion and became celebrities with the locals — nothing more than wishing us well in Korean and occasionally English — but we were, for a few months, definitely part of the ‘in’ crowd.”

“Celebrations often include extended, formalized Kim-cheersing, but people tend to drink in moderation. (That said, Petrov points out that alcoholism is “very widespread” in North Korea, as is meth use and, supposedly, marijuana, as people seek to be “distracted from the grim realities of everyday life.”)

“Although one is constantly blasted with Kim worship from loudspeakers positioned on street corners, there’s little chance of tapping your foot to a Western hit (let alone “Gangnam Style”) in North Korea. Instead, people make their own music, belting out revolutionary tunes popularized by modern folk groups like Moranbong Band, a sashaying, miniskirt-wearing, violin-and-guitar-playing female quartet, whose members are said to have been handpicked by Kim Jong Un. They are the closest thing the country has to the Spice Girls — hits include “Song of Bellflower Root,” “Song of Red Bean Paste,” “Let’s Meet at the Front Line,” “Drink to Victory,” and the classic “Cheers!” (“Chuk-bei!”).

“Even for buzzed North Koreans, there are few opportunities to fall out over religion or domestic politics; both are essentially off limits. Bar fights are rare, as are Hangover-style experiences — “I don’t know of anyone who has drunk too much and then blazed a trail of destruction across Pyongyang,” Cockerell says.

“It’s simplistic to dismiss North Koreans as brainwashed masses; in fact, we have more in common than we think. The morning after some particularly lively, birthday-inspired karaoke celebrations, one of our guides seemed unusually subdued and thoughtful. Later, he leaned over on the bus with a sorrowful sigh. “I drank too much last night,” he admitted. “Now I have a hangover.” Perhaps he wanted something for his headache?, I offered. His face immediately lit up. “You have medicine! Is it from France?” he eagerly asked. “No,” I replied, “Made in China.” Pak’s smile fell and his expression switched to one of immediate scorn. “China!” he scoffed, waving his hand dismissively. “Pfft!”

Getting High with Some North Koreans and Russians

At a restaurant, Richter wrote, “we were rolling joint after joint, without tobacco, and the air in the room was thick with sweet, herbal fumes. In fact, coming back from a trip to the facilities I was almost unable to find my chair again - until my eyes grew accustomed to the severely reduced visibility. Once or twice the waitress came by to collect plates, and, coughing, made mock gestures of trying to sweep the clouds away with her hands. She didn't mind at all, but rather seemed perplexed how something so commonplace could cause such unprecedented excitement.. The waitress brought more beers, shots of the local rice wine known as Soju, and someone passed me a joint. [Source: Darmon Richter, The Bohemian Blog, March 16, 2016]

It wasn't until the next evening — the last night of our tour --- that Mr Kim,” our guide, “decided to join us for a smoke. We were sat around drinking beers in a hotel bar, just across the town square from our own lodgings. Here the waitresses were taking it in turns to sing for us, clutching cheap Chinese microphones as they performed note-perfect renditions of one (party-approved) karaoke classic after another. Many of these songs had once been written to celebrate the anniversary of a military victory... while each of the North Korean leaders is given their own orchestral theme (check out the Song of General Kim Jong-un, for example).

“It was a pop song called Whistle that really got stuck in my head though, as it seemed to be on constant cycle during our trip - playing in shops, restaurants and offices. That evening I'm sure we heard it at least half a dozen times.” Sitting “around a long wooden table, we were drinking beer with our Korean guides - who up until this point had eschewed the weed.

They seemed to be ever-so-slightly uncomfortable with our discovery of their special plant; no doubt aware of its legal status in our own countries, it was their job to make sure we saw a positive representation of the DPRK... I sat next to Mr Kim, who, dressed in his usual dark suit and glasses, looked every part the intelligence officer. He was snacking on strips of dried fish to accompany his beer, and he offered me some. By way of a polite gesture I offered him a joint in return, very much expecting him to refuse it. Instead he smiled, winked, and put his arm round my shoulder as he started puffing away on the fat paper cone.

“Things got even more bizarre when the Russians arrived - a group of dock workers from the Vladivostok region, currently on leave in Rason and keen to get some alcohol inside them. One of my last memories of the evening is of knocking back large tumblers of Korean vodka with a walking stereotype of a man; he had the arms and chest of a bear, a square head topped with a white crew cut and a well manicured 'Uncle Joe' moustache... as well as a superhuman thirst for vodka.”

Karaokes in North Korea Gouge Foreign Customers

In 2017, Radio Free Asia reported: “Karaoke bars catering to foreign businessmen in the North Korean capital Pyongyang have become new sources of revenue for the sanctions-hit regime, with patrons being charged high for the personal attentions of female employees, sources in the capital say. “These employees are pretty and in their early 20s, and they keep their guests company by dancing and singing with them,” a Chinese businessman and frequent visitor to the city told RFA’s Korean Service. “No physical contact beyond hand-holding is allowed, though,” the businessman said. [Source: Radio Free Asia, March 30, 2017]

“Karaoke bars set up in Pyongyang to attract foreign customers are “clean and tidy” and well-equipped with a sound system, and can be favorably compared with similar establishments in China, the source said. “And the employees who greet customers when they arrive are friendly and polite, so that one may doubt whether they are actually in North Korea.”

“Female employees will often pose for photos with their guests, another businessman told RFA. “However, the pleasure of these joyful moments shared together is momentary, since good humor vanishes as soon as one receives the bill,” he said. Though beer is inexpensively priced at about 10 Chinese yuan (U.S.US$1.45) per bottle, with hard liquor charged at higher rates, guests also find themselves charged a “service fee” of about U.S.US$100 for each female employee attending them. “We felt like we had been hit with a bomb,” RFA’s source said. “We thought that the service fee for three of us going to a karaoke bar in Pyongyang would be about the same as one charged in a Chinese bar,” he said. “We couldn’t fight over the fee, though, and ended up having to pay in order to keep our reputation.”

“The money from these higher fees is never shared with the female employees, though, the source added. “The whole amount goes to the government.” “The government is making young women serve drinks to foreigners to earn foreign currency,” he said.

In 2007, North Korea's security agency ordered the shutdown of karaoke bars and Internet cafes, saying they are a threat to society, the South Korean newspaper Dong-A Ilbo reported. According to Reuters, “Refugees from the reclusive state say such outlets are largely located in the northern region that borders China and are frequented by merchants involved in cross-border business rather than ordinary citizens. The North's Ministry of People's Security said in a directive that all karaoke bars, video-screening rooms and Internet cafes operating without state authorization must shut immediately, the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper said. "It is so promulgated under the mandate of the Republic in order to crush enemy scheming and to squarely confront those who threaten the maintenance of the socialist system," the daily quoted the ministry directive as saying. "Most of the people who would go to these places are people who made quite a bit of money, normally not officials or the average person," said Park Sang-hak, an activist for human rights in the North based in South Korea. [Source: Reuters, Jul 11, 2007]

North Korean Circuses and High-Kicking Soldier Martial Artists

North Korean do some spectacular circus acts that have been featured at the World Circus Acts championship in Monaco. Describing a North Korean circus, Valerie Reitman wrote in the Los Angeles Times: “About a half dozen orchestra members, all sporting smiles and Kim Il Sung buttons, played while Pyongyang acrobats juggled, pirouettes on trapezes and bounced on seesaw that propelled their somersault-turning colleagues into the air. In one act, two clowns pulled a beefy South Korean tourist...onto the stage and pretended to drop a heavy ball on him; it turned out to be a balloon.”

Connor Simpson wrote in The Atlantic: “This latest dispatch from North Korea's state television features some kind of military demonstration put on for Kim Jong-Un, complete with a wonderful soundtrack. The leader surveyed his highly-trained, deadly team of martial artists and sharp shooters ahead of trying to provoke a response from either South Korea or the U.S. He even showed some of a group of his military commanders and advisers how to shoot a gun. [Source: Connor Simpson, The Atlantic. April 6, 2013]

“First, we get a glimpse of the very organized, in sync, North Korean military doing what appear to be dance steps. Their form is strong and they're clearly working as a unit. This looks like they've put in a lot of time at rehearsals, and it's paying off.... Their high kicks and are impressively high, though that one guy needs to remember to keep his leg straight. Form is important, guys. The judges are watching. Their punches pack a lot of, well, punch, so they have that going for them. They have a lot of flair.

The North Korean military is also very excited for Wrestlemania this weekend. Here, we see four soldiers demonstrating their wrestling prowess. On the left, one soldier performs a fireman's carry suplex and appears to kill his victim. He then jumps backward and takes a "bump" himself for good measure. Maybe he was trying to do a "People's Elbow" like his idol and this weekend's headliner, The Rock. We have watched this GIF probably 50 times and cannot figure out why he jumps backwards. It will keep us up at night. Because it's hilarious. On the right, one soldier ducks a punch to perform a belly-to-back suplex. Any collegiate wrestler would tell you his form needs work, though. Ge gets an assisst from his dance partner jumping into it. It looks like the jumper lands on his head, which isn't safe, and would be called a "botch" if performed in the ring. We cannot figure out a practical application for this flipping manoeuvre on the battlefield but it is undeniably fierce. That roll out is so smooth, so well executed. You can't hate on this.

Mass Games and Sport Spectacles

Mass games are usually held to Kim Il Sug’s birthday, Kim Jong Il’s birthday, National Foundation Day (the day North Korea was founded) and Foundation of the Armed Forces. Before big events you often see thousands of people practicing synchronized dancing and marching in the streets and squares in mornings, afternoon, evenings, rain, shine or snow. They often practice well after dark.

The “mass games” held for Kim Jong Il’s birthday in 2002 featured 100,000 participants. Mostly students, doing carefully choreographed performances in the gigantic May Day stadium in Pyongyang six days a week for two months. Dancers in the field performed elaborate, precisely coordinated routines while tens of thousands of students and workers with colored cards create huge mosaic-like images and tableaus the length of two football fields. The cards were often moved in intricate carefully-times sequences.

Dancers, singers and acrobats, in brightly-colored costumes, performed to songs like “The Leader Will Always be With Us” and “My Country Under the Sunshine of the Party” while people in the seats of the stadium produce images of missiles blasting off, farmers growing potatoes, Kim Jong Il coming to life in his mythical birth, Kim Il Sung's birthplace, armed forces repelling "U.S. aggressors," and smiling workers holding aloft hammers and sickles, and soldiers saluting. Often times the only audience is a small group of party faithful. Everyone else is a performer.

North Korea is well known for it welcomes. In the old days, even when delegation arrived from, say Bulgaria, 10,000 schoolgirls with pom poms and workers lined the hills along the main boulevard.

Large Mass Games

At a mass games to celebrate the 55th anniversary if the Korean Worker’s Party, more than a million people marched together in locked step. To open the games Patrick Smith wrote in U.S. News and World Report, “an army general frantically motions to the crowd to rise — and it does, in perfect unison. A cheer of frenzied adulation roars up from more than 100,000 spectators. Fireworks shoot in the air...People around me stretch their arms towards the Supreme Commander, as if hoping that his divinity, if that’s the word, will rub off on them.”

Peter Maass wrote in the New York Times Magazine: “During their visit to North Korea, a U.S. delegation headed by Albright Albright was shepherded into a stadium in Pyongyang, where they were seated next to” Kim Jong Il. “For the next two hours the Americans were treated to a ''mass game'' — a fantasia of synchronized gymnastics on the stadium floor and card-turning displays on the opposite side of the stadium. The exactitude of these ''games'' is terrifying. They are often staged on important national occasions; dignitaries from friendly countries were invited to a particularly spectacular display to mark Kim Jong Il's birthday” in 2002. I attended a mass game display in Pyongyang in 1989, and the sensation a Westerner feels is not artistic appreciation but totalitarian horror. [Source: Peter Maass, New York Times Magazine, October 19, 2003]

“One card montage performed for Albright showed a North Korean missile being launched into the sky. It was an odd display for Americans who were negotiating a cessation of missile production and research. But Kim, ever the showman, turned to Albright on his right and said, ''That was our first missile launch and our last.'' To make sure his message got through, he turned to Sherman on his left and repeated his statement. The meaning was clear: the missile program can be stopped if you offer us a new relationship. ''This was totally orchestrated, the cards and turning to us,'' Sherman said when I spoke with her at the Washington office of the Albright Group, a consulting firm. ''For all I know, that was the purpose of taking us to the stadium.''

Participation of North Korean Kids in Mass Games

From Pyongyang, Associated Press reported: “Thousands of North Korean child performers move their arms and legs in perfect unison, leaving the impression they aren't human but smiling robots trained to dance and sing. North Koreans boast it takes only a few months to teach the 100,000 students to perform in the massive propaganda spectacle known as a ''mass game.'' But most of the children learn their skills from a young age as part of their indoctrination into the regime's cult of personality focusing on late ruler Kim Il Sung.” [Source: Bo-Mi Lim, Associated Press, Chicago Sun-Times,October 12, 2005]

The show in 2005 was six times between August 15 and October 12. It was the largest in three years, raising expectations that it “could signal a major policy announcement, such as the naming of a successor to current leader Kim Jong Il, son of Kim Il Sung. The North Korean leader attended a special performance on the eve of the 60th anniversary of the founding of the North's ruling Workers' Party. The massive celebrations in Pyongyang also included a military parade on Monday with thousands of soldiers.

“The ''mass game'' is drawing the attention of foreign tourists, who have been offered a rare opportunity to attend, apparently as a moneymaking venture. Tickets for the event run from US$60 to US$360, in addition to travel and hotel fees. Hundreds of South Koreans have traveled this month on one-night trips on charter flights to Pyongyang, and even American tourists have been allowed into the country to view the shows. ''There is no word to describe the performance. You have to see it to feel the grandness,'' said Hyun Yung Ae, an official at the mass games organization committee. ''It is amazing to see our students learn to perform so well in such a short period of time,'' she said, adding that students had practiced ''just a few hours in the afternoon'' since April.

Across Pyongyang, ''art centers'' teach youths between the ages of 5 and 17 the techniques that are part of the show. At Mankyongdae Children's Palace, the biggest such center in the North Korean capital, dance teacher Kim Sung Hee said more than 5,000 students attend after-school classes daily in art, sports, science and computers. As South Korean tourists entered each classroom, groups of 20 students dutifully performed their specialties — playing the 12-stringed Korean traditional harp or accordions — without a single note out of sync. ''These children are great, great art performers,'' said Shin Young-kyo, a retired conductor for a children's choir in South Korea. ''But they are too good, I feel like I have just watched a group of machines. . . . Their performance doesn't have a touch of humanity.''

Kim Jong-un’s Effort to Make North Korea More Fun

Max Fisher wrote in the Washington Post: ““North Korea, and particularly new leader Kim Jong Un, love to put money into these sorts of big, lavish projects. Last year, they opened a dolphinarium. They're also working on a massive ski resort, although sanctions have made it impossible for them to purchase ski lifts. Projects like this might seem absurd, given how many North Koreans go without electricity or at times food, but there's an internal logic to these obviously wasteful extravagances. They reinforce a sense of both national prosperity and national greatness, a sign that North Korea truly is as rich and advanced as state media routinely claims. For years, the government simply told its citizens they were wealthier than everyone else; the information cordon prevented many from discovering the truth. Now that cordon is breaking down. Every big project like this is a counterpoint to the pirated Chinese and South Korean DVDs trickling into the country, showing fabulous wealth far beyond the North Korean standard. [Source: Max Fisher, Washington Post October 18, 2013]

During a tour of an amusement park in 2012, Kim Jong-un scolded the staff for neglecting duties. AFP reported: “Kim has scolded staff for failing to serve the people. It is rare for the all-powerful leader to inspect entertainment facilities rather than military units, plants, farms or construction sites. An analyst said it was also unusual for a leader to find fault publicly during such a tour, adding the move was intended to "spook" government officials and tighten his grip on the elite. [Source: AFP, May 9, 2012]

“The young leader toured the Mangyongdae Funfair and "scolded" the officials and caretakers of the establishment, Pyongyang's Korean Central News Agency said. He criticised them for having "below-zero spirit of serving the people," it said. Mr Kim fumed over poorly maintained pavements, with weeds growing in between broken blocks, amusement facilities with scraped-off paint and the faulty arrangement of bases for trees. "Seeing the weeds grown in between pavement blocks in the compound of the funfair, he, with an irritated look, plucked them up one by one," KCNA said.

He rebuked officials for not noticing such things and accused them of lacking "the attitude befitting master, affection for their worksites and conscience to serve the people", it said. "This is not just a business issue but an issue concerning ideological viewpoint," it quoted the leader as saying in a "serious" tone. "Officials should draw a serious lesson from the tour of Mangyongdae Funfair," he said.

Kim Jong-un’s Pyongyang Weird Water Park

Max Fisher wrote in the Washington Post: “North Korea opened a shiny new water park in east Pyongyang this week, to characteristically over-the-top fanfare. The official unveiling ceremony included the chiefs of the armed forces and top government officials. There was, of course, a full military parade. North Korean state media released several photos of the unveiling, which are posted below. [Source: Max Fisher, Washington Post October 18, 2013]

“The photos are, there's no getting around this, a bit creepy. Maybe it's the cartoonishly over-saturated colors in the middle of a country that is, in reality, rife with the drab greens and browns of communist housing blocks, hand-tilled fields and deep poverty. Maybe it's the insistence on celebrating a family amusement park with a military parade. And maybe it's the people in the photos. If you look closely, you'll notice that each shows, in the foreground, a handful of eager-looking young men and women playing in the water while, in the background, a mass of several hundred stern-looking men in dark suits look on silently. It's weird.

“Premiere Pak Pong Ju delivered a speech at the ceremony, arguing, in typically North Korean style, that the water park proves that everyone should do whatever Kim Jong Un says at all times. "The water park is the edifice built thanks to Korean Peoples' Army service personnel’s spirit of devotedly carrying out any project and their fighting traits as they are ready to flatten even a high mountain at a go in hearty response to the order of the supreme commander," he said, adding that park employees should "glorify forever Kim Jong Un’s leadership exploits."

“This message, that the water park is a sign of national greatness, isn't just some unstated subtext: Premier Pak said it explicitly in his speech. He called the part "a leisure complex for the people to be proud of before the world." State media claimed that the ceremony was filled with foreign dignitaries and diplomats – present, it does not need to be stated, to pay tribute.

“The conservative swimwear is a reminder of the oft-forgotten fact that North Korea's social norms are among the most strictly conservative in the world; shows of physical beauty are discouraged as shows of individualism. Partly, though, this predates the Kim regime and its Communist-era state ideology; Confucian-style social conservatism has been deeply entrenched in Korea for centuries. In some senses, it's South Korea that has diverged by becoming more socially liberal over the past few decades – although South Korea still has the worst gender gap in the developed world.

“In case this wasn't creepy enough for you, the park includes a life-size plaster statue of now-deceased leader Kim Jong Il, in the lobby for an indoor swimming pool. It's quite cold in Pyongyang for much of the year – making the park doubly extravagant – so this is presumably the room that will get the most use. I will say this for the Mansudae Art Studio, which created the sculpture: it got the pants hem exactly right.”

Image Sources: Wikimedia Commons.

Text Sources: UNESCO, Wikipedia, Library of Congress, CIA World Factbook, World Bank, New York Times, Washington Post, Los Angeles Times, National Geographic, Smithsonian magazine, The New Yorker, “Culture and Customs of Korea” by Donald N. Clark, Chunghee Sarah Soh in “Countries and Their Cultures”, “Columbia Encyclopedia”, Korea Times, Korea Herald, The Hankyoreh, JoongAng Daily, Radio Free Asia, Bloomberg, Reuters, Associated Press, Daily NK, NK News, BBC, AFP, The Atlantic, Yomiuri Shimbun, The Guardian and various books and other publications.

Updated in July 2021

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