50 North Korea Facts You Need to Know Right Now

Could Kim's recent openness to dialogue between South Korea and the United States be an indicator that the North could rebound to its economic heyday of the 1960s?
50 North Korea Facts You Need to Know
50 North Korea Facts You Need to Know Right Now Reuters

North Korea is one of the most secretive countries in the world—so secretive that it earned the nickname "hermit kingdom." This narrative, however, is changing as the current leader, Kim Jong Un, becomes more open to the rest of the world, particularly the United States. After the historic meeting between Kim and President Donald Trump, North Korea could potentially become less hermit kingdom, and more open kingdom.

But, as it stands currently, North Korea is still a dictatorship, having been led by one family since September 9, 1948. At the end of the Second World War, Korea—once controlled by Japan—was divided in two, with the north occupied by the Soviet Union and the south occupied by the United States. In 1948, reunification negotiations failed between North Korea and South Korea, and separate governments were formed, with Kim Il Sung being chosen as the first supreme leader of North Korea. In 1950, he initiated in an invasion of South Korea, which led to the Korean War. An armistice was signed on July 27, 1953 between the North and the South, creating a ceasefire but not a peace treaty. The two Koreas have been at "war" since, but that could soon change.

Since the armistice, North Korea has been ruled under a dictatorship using "Juche," or self-reliant, ideology. This means that North Korea is independent from all other nations, and refuses any international involvement from foreign countries. North Korea, however, has regularly received assistance from other nations, including Russia, Iran, and even South Korea and the United States.

But North Korea wasn't always a secret, impoverished nation. During the 1960s North Korea saw a relatively high standard of living, even outperforming South Korea. But the 1980s saw economic setbacks, famines, and decisions made by the Kim family that wound up severely impacting the health of the nation. Now, most of North Korea lives in poverty, under the watchful eye of the government, as Kim Jong Un struggles to maintain power.

Could Kim's recent openness to dialogue between South Korea and the United States be an indicator that the North could rebound to its economic heyday of the 1960s? Will the facts listed in this slideshow change after Trump and Kim Jong Un's historic meeting? Will the United States do something about the countless human rights violations the United Nations accuses North Korea of? Only time will tell. But before any of that happens, we should look at some important facts about the hermit kingdom. Slide on through to find out more about North Korea, and learn things like it isn't actually 2018 in North Korea, or that Kim Jong Un isn't actually the leader of North Korea. Mind blown? Yeah, ours too.

Kim Jong Un - North Korea Slideshow
The policy of self-reliance, or “juche,” meaning that North Korea will be economically and diplomatically independent regardless of famine or national tragedy, was put in place by North Korea’s founder and first leader, Kim Il Sung. Korea Summit Press Pool/Pool via Reuters