Placeholder Image

Subtitles section Play video

  • What's the biggest difference between North and South Korea?

  • Well for one, I say watch their news broadcast.

  • Take note on how they talk about their leaders:

  • "The Democratic People's Republic of Korea's

  • Dear leader and general Kim Jong Un...!"

  • As opposed to:

  • "So, this week, President Mun-Jae-In visited China... ."

  • Yeah that, I think they have this thing going on with conflict and something about a war

  • But nah, yeah.

  • It's time to learn Geography NOW!!

  • Hey Everybody, I'm your host Barbs.

  • We have reached our next set of twin countries.

  • The first was the Congos, the last ones will be the Sudans,

  • For now, we have reached the Koreas.

  • Now unless you have been living under a rock, I'm sure you may have heard something about

  • North Korea in the past decade as it has been in the news quite a bit.

  • As you know, I'm half Korean with roots in South Korea

  • and not only that, but I'm also American.

  • So basically, I'm the worst possible candidate in the eyes of an North Korean

  • to speak about their country. I will try to remain

  • as unbiased in neutral in my delivery addressing as much information

  • as objectively as possible, based of from pure data and fact.

  • So, Are you ready? Alright? Let's Begin!

  • 'Political Geography'

  • Dude, I need to work on my Korean, I made an embarrassment.

  • ANYWAY!

  • North Korea is sometimes referred to as the 'Hermit Kingdom'.

  • So, there's always a sense of mystery when it comes to the inside.

  • Fortunately, we have satellites and Google Earth.

  • First of all, North Korea is located on the Korean Peninsula connected to China's

  • Liaoning and Jilin provinces,

  • Sandwiched between the Korea Bay, and this sea which be careful what you call it,

  • Koreans and Chinese prefer the name 'East Sea'.

  • Whereas the Japanese call it 'Sea of Japan'.

  • Keep in mind, there is also an incredibly short

  • 17km long border with Russia

  • at the tripoint with China. Along the border with Russia

  • lies the Friendship Bridge, and only North Koreans and Russians are allowed to take it.

  • The transfer in Vladivostok, this means you could essentially

  • go all the way to Moscow, making it one of the longest train

  • itineraries in the world, at around 9 days upon arrival.

  • The same deal exist with China

  • in which there are 3 main border-crossing, the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge,

  • the Ji'An Yalu River Railway and the New Yalu River Bridge.

  • Each of these bridges though are guarded and will only let in certain government

  • approved arrivals that have no set schedule.

  • The country is divided into 3 types of administrative divisions,

  • the 9 provinces. The 특별시 or special city of Rason

  • as well as the capital, Pyongyang which also acts in it's own entity.

  • Pyongyang only has the international airport, Pyongyang Sunan International Airport,

  • Whereas the second largest city, Hamhung

  • and the 3rd largest, Chongjin, both on the east coast

  • also have respectively the next largest domestic airports.

  • Now we reached the most controversial part, the border with South Korea.

  • Literally like their own brothers.

  • This 250km long border know as the

  • DMZ or Demilitarized Zone, also sometimes call the 38th Parallel.

  • This line was established by the Korea armistice agreement

  • to serve as a buffer zone between the two nations

  • giving more than a little half of the peninsula to North Korea

  • This means that essentially both countries claim

  • that they are the rightful owners of the entire Peninsula

  • Or at least their government ruling system should be the dominant ruling ideologies.

  • At Panmunjom lies the joint Security Area

  • Which acts as like the only connection between North and South Korea

  • with neutral conference rooms. It's actually kind of like a tourist spot

  • in which people are allowed to go in under the supervision of an military guard.

  • On top of that, it's estimated that the country has about 8000

  • to 15,000 hidden underground facilities, including

  • underground factories, underground airforce hangers that cut through mountains naval ports.

  • And artillery pieces in caves.

  • North Korea, as we will soon find out has quite a unique layout based heavily

  • of for politics. Here you will find symbolism and

  • imagery that relates to the government everywhere,

  • Even in a middle of an remote farm villages.

  • Every school and office building is required to have portraits of the late

  • Kim Jong Il and Kim Il Sung on their walls.

  • In Pyongyang, whether not driving, they usually take the amazingly

  • embellished underground metro-system,

  • which goes as far as 110 metres below the surface

  • Most foreigners that visit rarely get to see anything outside of Pyongyang.

  • If you score a deal with the government, you might be allowed to visit Chongjin,

  • or the beaches of Wonsan, or the industrial city of Hamhung.

  • Oh and keep in mind since 2015,

  • They have actually started using their own timezone, UTC + 8:30

  • which makes them 30 minutes behind South Korea and Japan. Why did they do that?

  • NK: "Uhh, because North Korea, that's why!"

  • Otherwise, this is the part where I usually mention interest of places and honestly out of my research,

  • almost all of them were located in Pyongyang. Such As:

  • Korean People's study house,

  • The Arch of Triumph,

  • Juche Tower, Chollima Statue,

  • The Victorius Fatherland War Museum,

  • Mangyongdae Funfair amusement park,

  • Kumsusan Memorial Palace,

  • Gyeonggijang's Stadium, the largest in the world,

  • The tallest building, Ryugyong Hotel,

  • The Ideals of the North Korean Worker's party Momument,

  • Otherwise, outside of Pyongyang in Myohyangsan,

  • You have the Friendship Exhibition Hall.

  • In general, North Korea is quite different from

  • Most places you will encounter, due to the regime honoring architecture and monuments.

  • Aside from all that, the landscape

  • has a few colorful sites to offer, which brings us to,

  • 'Physical Geography'

  • Now, believe it or not, if you actually get to see the landscape

  • of rural North Korea, it will not disappoint you.

  • First of all,

  • North Korea is 80% mountainous

  • With the largest ranges being the Hamgyong and Nang-Lim mountain chains

  • Now, when the two Koreas slipt up, the North side got the most treasured natural Landmark, the highest peak on the entire Korean Peninsula, Mount Baekdu.

  • (well, part of it, China kinda got 3/4s of it) Mount Baekdu with its caldera lake,

  • known as 'Heaven Lake' is actually an active volcano

  • With the last eruption happening in 1903

  • and it is considered a sacred spot to all Koreans.

  • So west of Baekdu is the longest river that divides

  • the border with China, Amnok, or Yalu River

  • which empties into the Korea Bay.

  • Nonetheless, the Taedong River is probably the most important as it flows

  • directly through Pyongyang. About 70% of the country is forested

  • about 20% is arable for farming

  • which employs about 25% of the entire population.

  • Virtually every single crop field is under government jurisdiction

  • as farmers must hand over a portion or quarter of the produce to the state.

  • During the 90s widespread flooding

  • disasters caused famine which killed off hundreds of thousands of people,

  • and since then, North Korea has actually decided to quadruple

  • their potato production in many places replacing

  • rice since potatoes grow much faster and easier.

  • Speaking of which, I would argue if you really want a taste of deep, true non-commercialised

  • traditional Korean cusine, then the North Koreans

  • probably have it a little more locked down than South Korea. (I'm sorry South Korea but

  • it's kinda true I mean, come on, like where the hell was Cheese Ramen

  • a thing!) And even though admittedly they do taste kinda good

  • kimchi was never originally intended to be made into a burger paddy.

  • ANYWAY. A traditional Korean meal will usually consist of multiple Banchan,

  • which are small seasoned side dishes placed in small dishes and bowls alongside your main plate.

  • Typical dishes, I'm sure many of you have heard of,

  • like Bulgogi, Kalbi, Samgyeopsal, Buchimgae

  • Bibimbap, are made in resturaunts, sometimes in the homes of the elite.

  • However, most people in North Korea don't actually eat meat that much except on public holidays

  • or on special occasions due to the lack of access.

  • North Koreans are also known for having the

  • best version of my favourite food in the world, Neng myon; ice cold starchy buckwheat noodles,

  • typically served with a half boiled egg, thin slice of brisket, cucumber radishes top off with the right amount of vinegar and creamy spicy mustard.

  • If I could go to North Korea, JUST to try their Neng myon, I would. Watch: I'm at customs at the airport

  • and they're like "Purpose of visit?" "Neng myon." Yeah it's probably not going to happen.

  • YO DENNIS RODMAN! I need you to do me a favor! Almost all

  • Oil and petroleum is imported from China

  • from a pipeline orginating in Dandong along the border.

  • And I think that's a good transistion to start dicussing the people and how

  • and why they are the way they are.

  • Oh Yeah! Go ahead, please explain!

  • Pssh... Stupid Americans.

  • And THAT will be discussed too!

  • 'Demographics'

  • Now, let's be honest. When you hear 'North Korea'

  • Immediatley images of the Kim regime and Marching Soldiers and

  • Military Personnel, but for a couple minutes try as hard as

  • you can to to put that aside

  • and go deeper to a level that most people in the western world don't really tap into.

  • What is North Korea like outside of the news?

  • Well, first of all, the country has around 25 million people

  • and has the most active troops per capita at nearly

  • 48 per 1000 people.

  • With the exception of a very small group of Chinese, Japanese and Westerners

  • that have residency status, the country is almost completely homogeneous

  • at 99.9% ethnically Korean.

  • That was the easiest pie chart I've ever made. In addition they also use the

  • North Korean Won as their currency (even though foreigners can't use it)

  • They use the type C plug outlet and they drive on the right side of the road.

  • Let's quickly talk about the few non-North Koreans that are

  • allowed to live in North Korea. The only real group of

  • Ethnic minorites that have inhabited the peninsula

  • prior to war times would be the Jaegaseung people.

  • decendants of Manchurians?? From China that

  • got married and settled in the Area.

  • Otherwise, modern Chinese people known as Hua Qiao have been able to establish residencies in North Korea.

  • However, since the 80s more have been

  • repatriated back to China.

  • Otherwise, a very small commuity of a couple hundred Indians, Japanese

  • and yes, even about 200 Americans live in North Korea.

  • Some of them are Prisoners of War, some are defectors

  • but most of these people are serving in humanitarian sectors

  • providing things like medical and educational aid. The country has virtually

  • no standardised immigration policy, other than: Will the supreme leader (Kim ill-sung is eternal president) allow you in?

  • Which is how these two people got in! Rememeber the Equatorial Guinea episode?

  • we talked about the dictator, Francisco Macias.

  • Well, he made a deal with Kim Il-Sung and sent his kids to North Korea shortly

  • before he was assassinated. Yeah his daughter, Monique,

  • was raised alongside the regime, personally meeting Kim multiple times.

  • She speaks fluent Korean and is alive today,

  • She wrote a book and does speaking towards.

  • Then you have this guy who goes by his Korean name, Chosun Il, he is the only Westerner to officially

  • work for the regime. It took him over 10 years to gain the confidence of the government.

  • He is head of the Korean Friendship association

  • and is North Korea's unoffical ambassador to the world.

  • What's even more interesting are the North Koreans living abroad.

  • Today, there's a community of North Koreans descended people in Japan known as the Zainichi Koreans.

  • They have their own pro-Pyongyang operating schools and teach lessons in

  • Korean. The strong pro-North Korea curriculum, in Japan.

  • Weird, Huh?

  • Also, there is estimated to be a little more that 20,000

  • defectors living in South Korea.

  • And there are quite a few living in the US as well,

  • REMEMBER That letter I got in Flag Friday?

  • In North Korea, they speak of course Korean, but a distinct "North Korean" dialect

  • which is actually more kind of like a proper traditional way of speaking.

  • Whereas the Korean spoken in South Korea utilises a plateral of loan words

  • from English and to some extent, Chinese.

  • For Example: in South Korea, Juice is "Jyu-seu".

  • In North Korea: "Gwa-il dan-mul", which translates to something like 'Fruit sweet water'.

  • In South Korea, "Ah-ee-seu-keu-rim"

  • In North Korea: "Uh-reum kwa-ja" , which means something like 'Ice sweet treat'.

  • It's kind of like how Icelandic and Faroese is closer to ancient Norse than Danish, Swedish and Norwegian.

  • Now, being a North Korean in North Korea is very different

  • from being a citizen of most other places on Earth.

  • First thing you have to know is, Juche. This word describes the

  • Ideology of North Korea started by it's founder, Kim Il-Sung.

  • Juche translates to something along the lines of 'Self reliance',

  • What's interesting is that North Korea even goes by the Juche year,

  • NOT the Gregorian Calendar. All the years starts on Kim Il-Sung's

  • birthday, April 15, 1912,

  • Making 2018 the year 106 for them.

  • All researches follow the 'Sungun jung-ji' policy,

  • which gives rash in pirority to the military.

  • They have the largest military budget per GDP in the world

  • at nearly 23%. Both men and women are

  • are required to serve conscription. And with 1.2 million active,

  • this makes North Korea the country with the 4th largest military after China, the US and India.

  • In elementary school, children are taught almost immediately that the enemy is the West,

  • and specifically, the USA. One of their favorite cartoons being

  • "Squirrel and Hedgehog", antimorphic depiction of North Koreans

  • versus the Japanese weasels, South Korean mice and the

  • American Wolves. And don't forget good old Russia bear