While relatively little is known about what goes on inside North Korea and the inner workings of the communist party I think it’s pretty safe to say that the standard of living isn’t too high when compared to the rest of the world. Oh, they rattle their sabers every now and then and threaten to annihilate the United States or the neighbors to the south every few years or so but so far haven’t followed through on them.

Given that North Korea is a one party state I was surprised to find out that their national anthem, known as “Aegukka” in their native tongue, isn’t an ode to the country's founders or present leadership or even militaristic in nature. It was adopted in 1947 and as evidenced by the following translation into English, it seems to be a tribute to the people and country of North Korea itself.

Let morning shine on the rivers and mountains of this land,
Three thousand ri abundant with natural wealth.
This is my beautiful fatherland
With a history of five millennia,
The glory of a wise people
Brought up in a brilliant culture.
Devoting our bodies and minds to this Korea,
Let the Way be obeyed.

Embracing the atmosphere of Baekdu Mountain,
Nest for the spirit of labour,
The firm will, bonded with truth,
Will go forth to all the world.
The country established by the will of the people,
Breasting the raging waves with soaring strength.
Glorifying forever this Korea, limitlessly rich and strong,
Let the Way be shone.

For those of you who can read Korean, here's the lyrics in their native alphabet called Hangul.

아침은 빛나라 이 강산
은금에 자원도 가득한
삼천리 아름다운 내 조국
반만년 오랜 력사에
찬란한 문화로 자라난
슬기론 인민의 이 영광
몸과 맘 다 바쳐 이 조선
길이 받드세

백두산 기상을 다 안고
근로의 정신은 깃들어
진리로 뭉쳐진 억센 뜻
온 세계 앞서 나가리
솟는 힘 노도도 내밀어
인민의 뜻으로 선 나라
한없이 부강하는 이 조선
길이 빛내세

Not all that bad if you ask me.



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