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6 Reasons North Korea is the Funniest Evil Dictatorship Ever

Some country has to be worst one on Earth, and based on the conversation they heard you having in your hotel room last night, North Korea is really worried that you might think it's them.

Unfortunately for North Korea (and fortunately for us) they're just as bad at looking good as they are at being good, and their attempts to not make their country appear to be a festival of horrors usually end in laughable failure. For instance...

#6.
The Official North Korea Website Appears to be the Work of a Lone Middle School Child

The Problem:

Kim Jong-il is a self-proclaimed expert on the Internet, but understandably, Kim was having a hard time getting other people who were not otherwise required by law to believe this. No problem. He would just change their minds with the greatest Democratic People's Republic of Korea website...

The Ridiculous Solution:

... that 1998 can buy!

We'll understand if you're feeling a bit like a kid who's just been set loose at a carnival. But be sure not to miss the official Cafe Press store of the DPRK. Not only are there t-shirts, but most of them are entitled "Propaganda," and then numbered, a la George Foreman's kids.

There is also a FAQ, full of facts about North Korea, but in question form. Nearly all of the answers are some variation on "Who told you that? THEY LIE."

And the last question is one that we're fairly certain isn't frequently asked:

By accepting gay people, but apparently hating glitter scarves, North Korea impressively manages to annoy both red and blue state citizens.

Have we mentioned that the default language of this site is English? And on the older version of the site, Korean is not even listed as a language option?

Wait, it Gets Worse...

Because the main point of the site is to get you to join their fan club: the Korean Friendship Association!

You get a membership card and everything! Just send your information, 50 Euros and a photocopy of your passport, and you can participate in activities that are roughly the same as things you did in your Justin Timberlake fan club.

Please do not actually do this. We make no promises that you will not be stolen from your bed in the middle of the night, or that you will receive a free t-shirt.

But the site is better then nothing. We're sure Somalia is jealous.

#5.
The North Korean Amusement Park Will Horrify Your Children

The Problem:

North Korea is kind of like a 12-year-old. It can't support itself because it spends a lot of its allowance on toys and various love letters to Kim Jong-il. And keep in mind "toys" means "weapons." They are always threatening to build a nuclear arsenal, but the world realizes this would be the point the whole North Korea thing would stop being funny.

So North Korea has developed a system where they accept aid from countries in exchange for not running around with nuclear scissors. Which means that North Korea has a bit of a popularity and cash flow problem. Quick, what's a good capitalist pig solution for needing some money and good PR?

The Ridiculous Solution:

Why, opening a tourist resort, of course! A horrible, horrible tourist resort! Sponsored by Hyundai!

OK, so the Kumgangsan Tourist Region isn't a massive money-maker, but there is kayaking. There are also no ATMs, no taking pictures on the bus, no looking like you might go towards a military area, no touching or pointing at any monuments for Kim Jong-il's dad, no referring to North Korea as North Korea and you must "respect the culture of the [North] Koreans" working there, which we're pretty sure is code for "shoplifters of [North] Koreans will be prosecuted."

You laugh, but a woman was shot there last summer for breaking a rule, so let that be a lesson to you for whining about camp mess hall duty.

Wait, it Gets Worse...

And then there's the Meeting Hall for Separated Families.

One of North Korea's hobbies is kidnapping South Koreans. Another hobby is not letting people leave North Korea. We think now might be a good time to get North Korea into knitting.

Anyway, the Meeting Hall for Separated Families is billed as a resort amenity wherein once a year, the relatives of South Koreans trapped in North Korea can visit with their kidnapped kin.


Right next to kayaking!

In case you don't want to do the math from Hell, North Korea is making money off tour packages sold to the relatives of the people they are holding captive. At their fun for all ages resort!


Hope you brought a big enough suitcase for Grandma!

#4.
The Ryugyong Hotel of Unintentional Horror

The Problem:

OK, so we've got our own traumatizing version of Disney World. How else can we convince people that a repressed totalitarian regime can still be an awesome vacation spot? With the most awesome hotel in the world! And we'll make it look like a comic book supervillain headquarters!

It was 1987, the capitalist world was wearing pastel blazers without irony, and the North Koreans were thinking that maybe they could soak up some of those excess riches via tourism. Or maybe North Korea just wanted to look fabulous in time for the Seoul Olympics. Whatever the reason, they decided they would build THE GREATEST HOTEL EVER... and do it in a way that only a totalitarian police state can!

The Ridiculous Solution:

Unfortunately, like most virgins of things, North Korea went in only with knowledge they'd seen on TV, had to stop before the project was even close to finished and now just pretends it never happened. Breaking ground in 1987, the Ryugyong Hotel, at one point, would have been the tallest hotel in the world. There were going to be seven revolving restaurants at the top. Considering the quality of construction of the project, it seemed inevitable that at least one of them would go spinning off into the horizon like a Frisbee.

The North Koreans even put it on a postage stamp before it was finished. This made it even more uncomfortable when construction shut down in 1992, thought to be because the dissolved Soviet Union was no longer funding the project and huge errors in construction made it unsafe to stand within 10 blocks of the thing.

So, for the next 16 years, the hotel stood with pretty much nothing but the concrete frame, a depressing gray monster towering over the city.

The hotel, the distinctive shape of which utterly dominated the skyline, was often Photoshopped out of pictures. Tour guides and many officials sheepishly ignored it, having collectively decided that this is going to be the one thing about their country they are going to be embarrassed about.

Wait, it Gets Worse...

Last year, Orascom Telecom, an Eypgtian telecommunications company, agreed to pick up the bill to at least make the hotel look finished, because they are setting up North Korea's first 3G network (of which there will be likely one user) and are using the structure as a signal tower.

Meanwhile the "hotel" has a 2012 completion date, at which point we expect they will announce that it is simply "too popular to take open reservations."

#3.
The Giant Invasion Tunnel That Doesn't Exist

The Problem:

The Korean DMZ is the strip of land that straddles the border between North and South Korea, and is one of the most well preserved forest areas on the planet. This is because it is also home to an estimated one million landmines, so nobody is real interested in bothering it. It's possibly also proof that the endangered rainforests just aren't doing it right.


Painforest.

Nevertheless, North Korea is like that sticky kid who won't stop touching South Korea in pre-school, so the landmines are pretty much the only thing standing between South Korea and South Korea not being much fun anymore.

So, pretend that you're North Korea: an aggressive state with a million landmine restraining order against you, but you really, really want to get back with South Korea. You've already ruled out the comically large slingshot. So you decide to tunnel underneath the DMZ.

But then you get caught. Plus, they find a banner in the tunnel that says "Down with American Imperialists," so you can't blame it on crab people.

Do you:
A) Deny everything, or
B) Own up to it, laugh in an unsettling way and say that the next time, you're coming back with your spider cannon?

The Ridiculous Solution:

If you picked either of the above, it's probably because your brain doesn't suffer from horrible malnutrition. But you're North Korea, so the answer is:

C) Claim that the tunnel was a coal mine. A coal mine that happened to have a banner in it.


"WE, UH, HAVE LARGE GOPHERS."

Which was a problem for the United Nations Command asking the questions, because there isn't a trace of coal in the entire tunnel. And coal isn't found in that level of bedrock. And North Korea is a coal producing country, so they can't say they don't know any better.

Wait, it Gets Worse...

To attempt to create proof, North Korea sent people into the tunnel to paint some walls black so that they might look like coal. To a toddler, anyway. See, this is the attitude that keeps North Korea from making friends. And they really need friends, because only a friend would point out that, as a coal-producing country, they could easily have just planted the real thing.

#2.
"Welcome, Our Japanese Friends! What Kidnappings? Oh, Those."

The Problem:

The "Axis of Evil" speech was a coming out party for the cartoonishly evil North Korea. However, "silly amounts of oppressive" is rarely a selling point for a country that, as we mentioned, needs friends. And they don't need just any friends: North Korea needs the type of friends who will let them raid the fridge even though they've spent all their money on booze.

So, North Korea cleaned house, dusted off their best suits, and invited Junchiro Koizumi, the prime minister of Japan, over to begin diplomatic relations (ie, a "you give us food for free" program) for the very first time. But Japan wasn't just going to give it up for free. North Korea was going to have to make a grand gesture, stand outside Japan's hotel window, raise a boom box over their heads and blast...

The Ridiculous Solution:

"... You were right, we did kidnap a bunch of your citizens in the 70s in order to train people to spy on you! Sorry!"


Not pictured: human rights violations.

Touched by this gracious act of friendship, Junchiro asked the obvious question of where the captives were now. North Korea had not actually planned for that.

Wait, it Gets Worse...

At first, they hastily produced eight sketchy death certificates and pronounced the matter to be closed. This was a problem for Japan, as North Korea had owned up to kidnapping 13 people. Eventually, North Korea begrudgingly agreed to let the five living captive Japanese go back to Japan, but only if they promise to come back.

But by this point, Junchiro and the captives were safely back in Japan, so they didn't have to do anything that the crazy men with the clown masks and machetes were asking.


"No, no, it's cool, just come back. Come alone."

Facing a Japan that was more furious at them than ever before, North Korea provided what it claimed was the bones and ashes of two of the fallen captives. Unfortunately, "Science" class in North Korea has been co-opted by "Ways Kim Jong-il is Science" class, and no one there has heard of a DNA test. Which Japan performed, and then called shenanigans on the basis that North Korea had literally just thrown a bunch of different people's remains into a couple of boxes and called it a day. North Korea was told to get their grubby hands out of Japan's fridge.

North Korea called bullshit, and then asked for the remains back, perhaps hoping for a do-over.

#1.
They Made Their Own Godzilla Movie... at Gunpoint

The Problem:

Sometime in the late 70s, a young, scrappy Kim Jong-il was kicking around his palace, totally bummed out. "Why doesn't everyone on Earth love our glorious state?" he must have wondered. "Why doesn't everyone want to be a part of it?" As he surveyed the dirt poor, militarily controlled North Korea, he must have deduced that it was because of a lack of film.

A film buff himself, Kim Jong-il has actually authored a text-book on the subject, a title that is required reading for all film students who are actually CIA agents. Thus, Kim decided that he was just going to have to create great North Korean cinema himself. . .

The Ridiculous Solution:

. . .By kidnapping a famous director and his recently estranged actress wife from South Korea, and forcing them to make, amongst other things, the communist version of Godzilla.

Shin Sang-ok and Choi Eun-Hee were initially jailed by North Korea for four-years prior to being asked to make movies by Kim Jong-il, who explained that he had been delayed because "things were busy at the office." We imagine that this was because of all the other kidnapped people who were ahead of them in line.

Pulgasari, presumably made because Godzilla was not kitschy enough, is the charming story of a monster originally created "for the people" who eventually turns on them after being corrupted by greed and capitalism. Which seems bizarre, until you remember that the people who made this were mostly being fed grass.

It was not released until 1998, when a Japanese critic, most likely snickering, encouraged North Korea to release it, claiming that it could be a source of income, as well as a chance to screen an unheralded work.

Wait, it Gets Worse...

Ironically, the reported story of Shin and Choi would have made a fucking unbelievable film. They were kidnapped, tried to escape, failed, were placed in solitary for years, thought the other to be dead, discovered the other was alive after being brought to the most Idi Amin-esque dinner party ever, were then forced to make films and then fell back in love, before finally making a dramatic escape (including a taxi chase!) in Vienna.


"Shit! Should have bought the life rights to that!"



If you want to see more from Lola, she can be found talking football over at QuarterRack.

To complete your Cracked lesson on Foreign Affairs, check out Fun Size Countries: The Insane Histories of the World's 6 Tiniest Nations and The 5 Most Terrifying Civilizations In The History of the World.

And don't forget to visit Cracked.com's Top Picks for Boobs and Internet 101.

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