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Photos show what daily life looks like in restrictive North Korea

Schoolchildren wearing face mask, go to the Kumsong Secondary School No. 2 in the morning in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.
Schoolchildren wearing face mask, go to the Kumsong Secondary School No. 2 in the morning in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.Cha Song Ho/AP
  • People living in North Korea, or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, live rigid and controlled lives.

  • With a lack of connection to the outside world, North Koreans maintain their family ties and traditions.

  • Photos show what different aspects of daily life look like for people in North Korea.

Family is incredibly important to North Koreans.

A boy and his grandmother wearing face masks walk on a street along the Pyongyang Railway Station in Central District of of Pyongyang, North Korea, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.
A boy and his grandmother wearing face masks walk on a street along the Pyongyang Railway Station in Central District of of Pyongyang, North Korea, Friday, Nov. 4, 2022.Jon Chol Jin/AP

The concepts of family and lineage are important to North Koreans, many of whom have family in South Korea that they can only see on limited occasions, according to NPR. There are heavy restrictions on travel (partially due to the pandemic), according to a 2022 Human Rights Watch report.

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Most North Koreans live in poverty, though photos out of the capital city of Pyongyang wouldn't have you think that. Only a wealthy minority live in the modernized capital that some have called a "21st Century showpiece."

Family reunions between the north and south have been on hold for years.

North Korean refugee Jo Kyeong-hyeon, left, and his family members pay respect to their ancestors in North Korea to celebrate the Chuseok, the Korean version of Thanksgiving Day, at Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.
North Korean refugee Jo Kyeong-hyeon, left, and his family members pay respect to their ancestors in North Korea to celebrate the Chuseok, the Korean version of Thanksgiving Day, at Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, near the border with North Korea, South Korea, Thursday, Oct. 1, 2020.Ahn Young-joon/AP

According to NPR, South Korea in September proposed resuming the reunification meetings for families separated since the Korean War, but North Korea refused. Exchange programs between the two nations halted in 2019 amid broader nuclear discussions and later the coronavirus pandemic, per NPR.

Still, they enjoy traditions with their neighbors, like making kimchi.

A family in Somun-dong, Central District, prepares Kimchi for the coming winter with their neighbors at their home in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, Nov., 19, 2020.
A family in Somun-dong, Central District, prepares Kimchi for the coming winter with their neighbors at their home in Pyongyang, North Korea, Thursday, Nov., 19, 2020.Jon Chol Jin/AP

Kimchi, a traditional Korean dish of pickled vegetables, accompanies most meals, according to the Associated Press. Last year, Radio Free Asia reported that poor harvests prevented many families from enjoying kimjang, the process of making kimchi that is celebrated annually.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un expanded the education system with a focus on science.

Schoolchildren wearing face mask, go to the Kumsong Secondary School No. 2 in the morning in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.
Schoolchildren wearing face mask, go to the Kumsong Secondary School No. 2 in the morning in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, Nov. 3, 2021.Cha Song Ho/AP

Under Kim, the country expanded its education system to support children for 12 years with a special focus on STEM subjects, according to the Institute for Security and Development Policy, a non-profit policy organization based in Stockholm.

Citizens visit the zoo to see different breeds of animals from other countries.

A woman and her son see the tortoise at the aquarium of the Central Zoo in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Dec. 3, 2021.
A woman and her son see the tortoise at the aquarium of the Central Zoo in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Dec. 3, 2021.Cha Song Ho/AP

In the country's capital of Pyongyang, the Central Zoo has drawn spectators for decades, according to the Associated Press. In 2016, the main draw was the "dog pavilion" that showcased dozens of different dog breeds, the outlet reported.

The pandemic led to an increase in demands for divorces, reports said.

A bride and groom walk after having their wedding photos taken with the background of the Tower of the Juche Idea in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019.
A bride and groom walk after having their wedding photos taken with the background of the Tower of the Juche Idea in Pyongyang, North Korea, Sunday, Nov. 24, 2019.Dita Alangkara/AP

There has been an increase in the demand for divorces due to financial pressures amid the coronavirus pandemic, Radio Free Asia and Daily NK reported last year. Divorce is considered "anti-socialist" and an instigator of "social unrest" in North Korea, where people use bribes to get their divorce hearings scheduled, Radio Free Asia reported.

The 'songbun' caste system divides people into social classes.

Two women sit on a chair with national flags in front of the Grand People's Study House in Pyongyang, on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020.
Two women sit on a chair with national flags in front of the Grand People's Study House in Pyongyang, on Thursday, Dec. 24, 2020.Cha Song Ho/AP

The country uses a social caste system known as "songbun," which divides people into classes as "loyal," "wavering," or "hostile," according to the 2022 Human Rights Watch report. Women and other marginalized groups are often the subjects of gender, sexual, and human rights abuses, according to the report.

The country encourages nationalism and veneration of state leaders.

People view paintings at the National New Fine Art Talents Exhibition at the Okryu Exhibition Hall in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.
People view paintings at the National New Fine Art Talents Exhibition at the Okryu Exhibition Hall in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Tuesday, May 11, 2021.Cha Song Ho/AP

The 25 million citizens residing in North Korea are taught from a young age to worship leaders like Kim Jong Un as powerful gods, according to the BBC. Many of them sing his praises publically, but it is difficult to know how deep the sentiment goes when dissidents are threatened with labor camps or death.

There are celebrations of military might.

Students dance during the celebrations of the 74th founding anniversary of Korean People's Army in the plaza of the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022.
Students dance during the celebrations of the 74th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army in the plaza of the Pyongyang Indoor Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Tuesday, Feb. 8, 2022.Cha Song Ho/AP

North Koreans celebrate the founding of the Korean People's Army every year. This year, the national holiday falls on February 8, and there is speculation that Supreme Leader Kim may test a tactical nuclear warhead to celebrate, according to The Daily Beast.

Propaganda is a prominent force in the country.

A North Korean national flag in North Korea's propaganda village of Gijungdong is seen from a South Korea's observation post inside the demilitarized zone (DMZ) separating South and North Korea on October 04, 2022 in Panmunjom, South Korea.
A North Korean national flag in North Korea's propaganda village of GijungdongChung Sung-Jun/Getty Images

Propaganda plays a key role in upholding the country's nationalistic ideals. Directly across the Demilitarized Zone separating North and South Korea, an idyllic village sits on the north side in an attempt to persuade South Koreans to defect, according to the Los Angeles Times. North Koreans refer to it as "Peace Village," while South Koreans call it "Propaganda Village."

Leader Kim uses propaganda campaigns to secure support amid struggles.

People exit an underpass along a main street of the Central District in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021. The Workers’ Party Congress is one of the North’s biggest propaganda spectacles and is meant to help leader Kim Jong Un show his people that he’s firmly in control and boost unity in the face of COVID-19 and other growing economic challenges.
People exit an underpass along a main street of the Central District in Pyongyang, North Korea, on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2021.Cha Song Ho/AP

Leader Kim Jong Un relies on the Workers' Party Congress to help emphasize his independent and militaristic ideals for the country. In March 2022, Kim called for a fresh propaganda campaign to boost national morale amid economic struggles.

Officials in Pyongyang restrict foreigners from taking photos in the off seasons when the weather worse and the scenery is devoid of greenery, according to Vox. Most of the country lives in poverty in bleaker, rural areas.

Traveling without permission is a capital offense.

Commuters walk inside Puhung subway station in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019.
Commuters walk inside Puhung subway station in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 11, 2019.Dita Alangkara/AP

It is illegal to travel internationally or within North Korean provinces without expressed approval, according to Human Rights Watch. Some have defected to South Korea at great personal risk as leaving the country without permission is considered a capital offense, according to the HRW report.

Read the original article on Insider