From hairstyles to MacBook Pros, here are five insane (and Denis Rodman-free) facts about North Korea that may surprise you.
1. North Koreans are “encouraged” to choose from one of 28 state approved haircuts
Apparently the only person in North Korea who can sport a high-and-tight is the Supreme Leader, Kim Jong-un, as it’s not one of the 28 state approved haircuts. American Press photographer David Guttenfelder snapped these pictures of the 18 female and 10 male government sanctioned hairstyles in a North Korean barbershop and, as would be expected, all are pretty conservative.
Whether or not failing to meet haircut regulations is a punishable offence is unclear, but one thing’s for certain: Follically challenged North Koreans had better get a toupee as there’s no room for baldness in the North Korean utopia.
2. North Korea’s official Twitter account follows one American – and he has no idea why
@uriminzok, North Korea’s official Twitter account, has tweeted over 9,000 times, picked up 20,000 followers, but only follows three other accounts itself. One is @Pyongyang_DPRK, which tweets about news related to North Korea and its capital, Pyongyang. The second is Trịnh Ngọc Duy (@qwertyvn) from Vietnam, whose account is virtually dead. The only Tweet sent from that account in nearly four years is a surprised reaction to its unusual follower.
Perhaps even more bizarre is that the third and final account that North Korea follows belongs to Jimmy Dushku (@JimmyDushku), a 26-year old investor from Austin, Texas.
"People always ask me how it happened, and I honestly can't remember," Dushku told Mother Jones last year. "It started sometime back in 2010. I was initially surprised, but I always try to make friends with people from all different locations and backgrounds."
3. North Korea has its own OS and it looks a lot like Apple’s OS X
Red Star OS is North Korean’s Linux-based operating system that’s developed by the Korea Computer Center, a North Korean government IT research center. Prior to its 2002 development, North Korea was mostly standardized on English versions of Microsoft Windows. But following the release of Red Star, the country switched over to its homegrown OS, which had a desktop design similar to Windows'.
Last summer, however, version 3.0 of Red Star OS was released and, thanks to the screenshots provided by Will Scott, we see that the latest version bears a striking resemblance to Mac OS X. Scott is a computer scientist who taught at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, North Korea’s first privately funded university.
Red Star includes Naenara (“My Country”), a Mozilla Firefox-based browser that connects to the country’s intranet. It also features a copy of Wine, a free and open source software that allows for applications that are designed for Windows to run on Unix-like operating systems.
4. North Korea has an active YouTube channel
It’s estimated that fewer than 1,000 North Koreans use the Internet, or 0.0% of its 24 million citizens. Despite this, North Korea’s YouTube channel (uriminzokkiri) is updated regularly, with multiple videos being uploaded on a near daily basis. The account's 8000+ video uploads feature news reports, propaganda videos, and clips of Kim Jong-un, no doubt being supreme.
The channel, which has over 10,000 subscribers and more than 10 million views, has been active since 2010. Aside from the few high-ranking government officials that are granted Internet access, it’s safe to assume that close to 100% of the views are from those outside of North Korea nation making the channel’s 8-digit view count a clear testimony to the fascination that the world has with the reclusive nation.
5. Kim Jong-il used a MacBook Pro
Writer Tim Urban of waitbutwhy.com was in North Korea for five days, and during his bizarre trip, visited the Kim Jong-il museum. In addition to a mausoleum decked out with the corpse of the deceased leader, the exhibition features artefacts from his life including awards he won, his favorite outfit, and his MacBook Pro.
That’s right – Kim Jong-il is a Mac guy. No word yet if the Dear Leader ever worked on any novels at his local Starbucks.