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What Would Your Life Be Like If You Were Born In North Korea?

Not great.

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Editors' note

This post has been corrected to remove phrasing that was copied from a U.S. News & World Reports article. Those sentences have been rewritten and the information has been properly attributed.

BuzzFeed takes its responsibility to readers very seriously, and plagiarism is a major breach of that responsibility. Please read our apology to readers here.


There's a 50% chance you would have been born into "extreme poverty," according to U.S. News & World Reports, and your diet would consist of corn and kimchi as you would have "severely restricted in access to fuel for cooking and heating."

Electric power would only last a few hours per day, if you received it at all. Flush toilets would be a luxury enjoyed by only half the country, as water is only provided for 2-3 hours a day.

If your parents decided to send you to a "free" state school, they would be expected to provide "the schools with sand, cement, glass panes and other material goods as well as cash for management." They would also have to pay for your desk and chair.


After the age of 13 you would be enlisted in the Red Guard Youth and receive about 300 hours of rudimentary military training annually, according to Country Data.

AP / Via

After formal education, you would be required to perform military service. The constitution states: "Defending the fatherland is the supreme duty and honor of citizens. Citizens shall defend the fatherland and serve in the armed forces as prescribed by law."


As an adult, you would be allowed to join one political organization: The Workers' Party of Korea.

Kcna / Via

No other political ideology is allowed. Defection from the party is a high crime and would be treated as treason.

After your military service you would be directed to the industry that needed your labor the most. Most workers will make on average of $2 to $3 per month in pay from the government, as reported by U.S. News & World Reports, if they get paid at all.

Lee Jae-Won / Via

Unless you are highly skilled or privileged, the only work available would be labor or factory work. There are even reports of having to pay your company to work there.


You only would have been allowed a university education if you were very privileged. That would be the only hope of securing a position outside manual labor and ensuring a place in the state sanctioned aristocracy.

David Guttenfelder, File / Via

All real power and privilege in society would stem from connection to the tight-knit political and military aristocracy.

The chances of living to old age would be slim.

Alexander F. Yuan / Via

Life expectancy in North Korea has decreased by 4 years since the 1980s, with "men living to only 65.6 and women to only 72.7 years on average," according to the Guardian.

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