Back on task:
North Korea is the least visited country in the world – only 1,800 Westerners make the trip each year.
The border with China has become porous, with people moving back and forth and some in the area using Chinese mobile phone networks with smuggled handsets.
Until 1987 no visitors from "non-aligned" countries were allowed; by 1993, around 50 western tourists a year were visiting. Now just under 2,000 a year go there, along with up to 30,000 Chinese tourists, accompanied by guides at all times. Photographs are inspected – and often deleted – before tourists leave.
The government operates a semi-hereditary system of social discrimination whereby all citizens are classified into 53 subgroups under overall security ratings – 'core', 'wavering', and 'hostile' – based on their family's perceived loyalty to the regime. This rating determines virtually every facet of a person's life, including employment and educational opportunities, place of residence, access to medical facilities, and even access to stores
Kim Jong Il - Official biographers say that the 67-year-old was born in a military camp on Baekdu Mountain, his birth foretold by a swallow and heralded by the appearance of a double rainbow over the mountain and a new star in the heavens. According to Soviet records, however, he was born in a Siberian village.
His former sushi chef described a man with a violent temper and a love for large quantities of Hennessy VSOP cognac. Banquets used to last up to four days; his Pleasure Brigade, handpicked young women, provided the entertainment, sometimes ordered to dance naked.
According to North Korean media, Kim's accomplishments are legion. His official biography says he has composed six operas and according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap, he has described himself as an internet expert.
Pyongyang's eight cinemas are said to be frequently closed due to lack of power; when open, they screen domestic propaganda movies with inspiring titles such as The Fate of a Self-Defence Corps Man.
Crossroads are overseen by female traffic police, reportedly hand-picked by Kim Jong-il for their beauty – although men manage the roundabouts. Traffic lights are in place, but rarely used.
Much more here: http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/aug/06/north-korea-kim-jong-il