2 The history of North Korea can be summarized in three words: Kim, Kim and Kim. The first leader of the communist North,
3 The quality of life in North Korea has been so bad for so long that its people are now physically different from their South Korean cousins. A Seoul National University study published in 2005 found that northern young men were on average 2.3 inches shorter and young women 2.6 shorter. Another study found an even wider gap — nearly 5 inches — among children.
4 Despite its dismal record on many issues, North Korea is credited with an excellent literacy rate. The
5 North Korea announced plans to build the world's tallest building. But the 105-story Ryugyong Hotel in
6 A country known for famine and forced-labor camps also features something cheerier: golf. The North Korea Amateur Open last May attracted a smattering of foreign tourists. And Kim Jong Un's wife,
7 If you want to learn more about North Korea, just visit. Yes, despite being a member of the "Axis of Evil," North Korea accepts American tourists, if only a few thousand annually. Recently, Radio Free Asia reported that tourist visas were being approved in days instead of weeks. That said, the
8 More than half of North Korean men smoke, a rate double that in the U.S., according to World Health Organization figures. The Pyongyang government has tried for a decade to get people to quit, but the campaign was not helped by a photo just this month of Kim Jong Un puffing away after the infamous rocket launch. (The nation apparently has cashed in on smoking: It has a reputation as an international counterfeiter of cigarette brands such as Marlboro, Dunhill and Benson & Hedges.)
9 Movie director Shin Sang Ok, known as "the
10 Kim Jong Un's succession to leadership may have been eased when another candidate who was his half-brother embarrassed the family. Kim Jong Nam was caught in 2001 trying to enter Japan on a fake
Mark Jacob is a deputy metro editor at the Tribune; Stephan Benzkofer is the Tribune's weekend editor.