As famous for its impartial news bulletins as it is a booming tourism industry, North Korea has a long history of manipulating its national media.
So practiced is the rogue state at delivering unintentionally hilarious pieces of propaganda (barely) disguised as news stories that eve spoof stories like this one, declaring an astronaut had landed on the sun, fooled quite a few.
Not that it was any more outlandish than some of the real-life reporting that's gone before it though. And with that man Kim Jong-Un in the news again, we thought we'd bring you the wackiest.
Kim Jong-Un Climbed An Active Volcano
Helicopters are for wimps, clearly, as Kim Jong-Un has now scaled North Korea's biggest mountain on his own, making even fellow despot Putin look like a sissy. The maverick leader climbed the 2,744m active volcano Mt. Paektu to meet with 100 soldiers at the summit for a photoshoot. We’ll forgive him for getting a lift back down, mind. He must have been knackered.
The invention of waterproof liquid
The world’s foremost scientists must have obviously been looking the other way when North Korea's state-ran news website KCNA heralded the invention of a generation, waterproof liquid. Yes, you read that right. Along with its oxymoronic qualities, the invention’s primary use was apparently to act as a floor sealant and has since been used in the construction of apartment buildings across its capital of Pyongyang.
Discovery of a unicorn lair
Even the Nazis knew better than to claim unicorns exist. Besides, we imagine it’s not really worth the amount of superglue-related trouble. But actual ‘proof’ clearly didn’t deter the dictatorship when, in 2012, it allowed the Institute of Academy of Social Sciences to report that archaeologists had unearthed a mythical unicorn lair just 220 yards from a Pyongyang temple, with the words ‘unicorn lair’ carved into stone, handily.
China: the happiest place to live on Earth
Any question of North Korean bias was promptly squashed in 2013, as the country’s Chosun Central Television chancel pinpointed China as the happiest place to live on Earth, awarding them 100 out of 100 points, and chivalrously demoting themselves to second on 98 points. Naturally, they were closely followed by Cuba, Iran and Venezuela.
The year: 103
Still writing 2013 instead of 2014? Well spare a thought for citizens of North Korea, who, doubtlessly reminded every time they switch on the news, currently find themselves living in the year 103. The alternative calendar signifies the years since the Republic’s founder Kim Il Sung was born, and was introduced as late as 1997 by son Kim Jong-Il, who may be attempting to take attention away from his own birth, which, as legend has it, took place on Mount Paektu under a double rainbow as a new star appeared in the sky.
World record golf round
Back in 1994, news reports claimed that then-leader Kim Jong-Il broke a world record at golf, shooting a 38-under par round on the state’s only course which saw him bag 11 hole-in-ones. Not only was it 25 strokes better than the previous best, it was the first time the Jong-Il had picked up a club in his life. Somewhat understandably, knowing Tiger Woods and the like weren’t up to his standards, he declared his retirement immediately after the round.
Bizarre World Cup coverage
Almost surpassing the ‘fans’ (rumoured to be volunteers from communist groups in China) in terms of sheer ridiculousness, North Korea’s media coverage of their football team at the 2010 World Cup was odd to say the least: the match report of the narrow 2-1 loss to Brazil didn’t even mention the score line, while the next match, a 7-0 battering to Portugal wasn’t even mentioned in the news, despite the team receiving a public dressing down upon their return home.
National Angling contest
Forget the widespread famine, daily executions and overflowing prison camps, North Korea has bigger fish to fry. Quite literally in fact, if a 2010 story by state-website Kcna.co.jp on an annual angling contest is anything to go by. The national event was trumpeted by the site as taking place in Pyongyang’s River Tadedong and featuring 60 anglers from all the provinces, who were enjoying the “leisure activities” and “natural environment” available to them.