Useless Jobs That Actually Exist In North Korea

North Korea is a strange country. Let's find out which useless inefficient strange jobs exist because of their failed regime.


North Korea is a country that’s riddled with inefficiencies, all in the name of making the country appear like a prosperous and powerful nation. And it’s the people that this duty falls on. From stone polishers to puddle sweepers, let’s take a look at some of the useless jobs that actually exist in North Korea.

Is North Korea Communist?

Before we dive into this sack of corruption, let’s find out a bit more about why North Korea is so determined to appear powerful to the rest of the world. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, more commonly known as North Korea, couldn’t be further from a real democracy if it tried. A communist dictatorship at heart, the party’s ideologies of communism have wreaked havoc on its people for decades.

North Korea commuist regime

Collectivized farms have often led to economically mismanaged food shortages, and corruption is rife within the country's elite, so while the poor starve on meagre rations, the supreme leader has reportedly suffered ankle fractures because he’s gotten too fat off imported cheese.

Kim Jong-un North Korean Dictator

To maintain control and ensure the country keeps working, the government designates its citizens' jobs at the age of 16 which are lifelong careers. No promotions, no pay rises, and with no retirement age, you literally work until you die! But some of these jobs are designed purely to make the country look better on the outside, despite the enormous cracks clearly showing to the rest of the world.

So, if you’re not in the 8.9 million-strong military, which makes up about a third of the total population, what are some of the most useless jobs you can be forced to do for the rest of your life?

Street Cleaners

With an average per capita income of just $1000 a year, most North Koreans are extremely poor. This makes things like cars, motorcycles, and even bicycles incredibly hard to come by. So, the streets of the capital city Pyongyang are eerily silent, despite having been built so large and wide as a display of prosperity and power.

With the streets built to accommodate a lot more traffic than there is, they’re usually quiet and clean. But what if your lifelong job was to be a designated street cleaner? Do you just continue to clean the already spotless roads regardless?

north korea street cleaners

Leaked footage taken in 2010 shows that, without anything better to do, clean-up squads were attempting to brush away the puddles from the sides of the roads in Pyongyang. Since when were puddles considered unsightly? That is unless North Korea doesn’t want us to think it relies on anything, not even rain!

Political Oppositions

Did you know North Korea holds legitimate elections every 5 years? No joke. Every half decade the citizens of the hermit kingdom are given the opportunity to vote back in their current party, the Workers Party of Korea, or vote against them.

Except it’s mandatory and, while voting for the current ruling party is done by a secret ballot, voting against them is done in a separate ballot box without secrecy. Your name and information are forfeit for voting against the party of the ‘Respected Comrade Who is Identical to Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il’ (that’s a genuine title Kim Jong Un holds).

north korea ellections

Previous parties that have run against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea include the Korea Buddhist Federation, the Democratic Independent Party, the Labouring People’s Party and the Gonmin Peoples Party. To clarify, none of them seems to have won any seats in the last 48 years.

Almost every election under The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is reported to have a turnout rate of 99% or higher, with an approval rating for the party of 100%. It’s almost as if these political parties are left running for show, to demonstrate just how tight the WPKs political grip currently is.

So, in theory, you could try to run against current leader Kim Jong-Un. Depends on how much you value your life!

Stone Cleaner

North Korea gets an average of around 4000 to 6000 Western tourists a year, less than 0.02% of London’s tourist footfall in 2018, and 0.007% in contrast to New York! With so few people visiting, how do you make important places of culture look like they’re popular?

If you’re part of North Korea’s Victorious War Museum, it appears you have a dedicated ‘stone cleaner’. From secret footage from 2010, reporters found a poor lady scrubbing pathway stones in the museum courtyard.

old lady cleaning stones north korea

It seems it’s considered unsightly to have dirt build up on stones, indicating no one has visited for a while. She was quickly escorted away from the tourists prying eyes. North Korea's front of perfection can’t be ruined by the idea that most of its country is unbelievably poor. In fact, so poor that cleaning rocks for a living is a government-mandated job.

Snow Path Clearer

In the northernmost areas of North Korea lies Chongjin, the place where Kim Jong-Il (the ‘Eternal General Secretary of the Party’) was born. It’s a place designed to be celebrated with large murals honouring the dead ‘Dear Leader’ but is usually off limits. Not just to tourists, but to locals alike, seeing as the snow is so dense and dangerous and vehicles are rarely equipped to deal with the conditions.

But even here, large monuments and paths are kept clear at all times of the year. Not by gritters or snow ploughs, but by hand. The job of snow clearers once again falls to the poor, who continue to work in the harsh weather even when there are no visitors.

Snow path cleaners north korea

Pyongyang Traffic Ladies

In most societies, beautiful women have the world at their feet. They can be actresses, CEOs, models, or entrepreneurs; but in North Korea, they get to be traffic ladies. These weirdly iconic women have to meet three main requirements: they must be single, beautiful and tall.

There are about 300 of them in total, and they are designed to be a front for Pyongyang to maintain the idea of a perfect-looking society. There are even rumours that these beauties are handpicked for their job by the Dear Leader himself!

North Korea streets empty

But remember how before we saw that there aren’t huge amounts of traffic around? Well, these women are instructed to carry on regardless, it’s like the macarena gone mad in the middle of the road!

On top of this, once they reach the age of 26 or are married, they’re relieved of duty. It’s a declining profession as they’re losing out to the introduction of traffic lights, just like the rest of the world. Better 90 years late than never I guess.

Fashion Police

The fashion police are real, and they live in North Korea. In a country where it’s a priority to quash all foreign influences, fashion comes in high on the list.

The Kimilsungist-Kimjongilist Youth League make it their duty to ensure that their fellow comrades are maintaining ‘ideological purity’, and play a role in making sure the youth of North Korea are kept from rebelling or opposing their "Glorious General, Who Descended From Heaven".

Fashion Police North Korea uniform

So how do they do this? They actually critique street fashion. Deviating from dark suits and flat shoes, or anything too decorative or unusual, could be considered ‘foreign influence’ and can be punished by a stint in a labour camp. But here’s a thought: if your entire regime can be broken by a mini skirt, maybe you need a new regime.

Religion Professions In North Korea

In North Korea's constitution, it promises a “right to faith”. But officially, North Korea is an atheist state. Defectors claim that the promise of this right is mainly for show, with persecution and severe punishments for practising religions such as Christianity outside of state-controlled churches.

Anything that would divert the people’s full attention, respect and worship from the party or its ‘Highest Incarnation of the Revolutionary Comradeship ’can be judged as a ‘religious coup d’état’. If that’s the case, how would you get by being a priest? Or any kind of religious figurehead for that matter? Well usually, you don’t.

In Pyongyang, there is a grand total of 4 churches: Christian, Protestant, Catholic and Russian Orthodox. In a city of similar size such as Lisbon, there are over 19 churches. Or take Geneva, with 18 churches. With everyone indoctrinated since birth to treat the Kim family as near-godlike figures, what use is there for religion?

Religious Figureheads North Korea Kim family worship

DPRK Musician

In 2015, ‘Outstanding Leader of the Party, Army and People’ Kim Jon-Un ordered a ban on music. House-to-house searches were put into place not just in the search of foreign jams, but local tunes as well. CDs and cassettes were incinerated if found to contain newly lawed prohibited material. Concern arose within the party that certain lyrics could motivate dissent.

Musicians and their music must be given state authorisation to be distributed to the masses, making musicians almost irrelevant within the country’s confines. But it’s not as if they were being paid royalties anyway! To date, around 15 civilian bands are authorised by the state, but there’s no guarantee they won’t be censored in the future.

Musicians North Korea Opera

Human Pixels

Most of the world has become enamoured with Augmented Reality features at their sporting events. South Korea in particular used the stunning technology in Pyeong Chang’s Olympic opening ceremony to show a map of constellations, as well as bringing dragons into their Baseball games.

But just a stone’s throw away in North Korea it’s a little more of a hands-on experience. Literally. At the Arirang Mass Games, you can see a wide range of human sports and acrobatics performed, but take another look at that impressive mosaic at the back.

Watch on YouTube

It’s not a giant screen, those are people! Human pixels, if you will. Acting each as one piece of an ever-changing puzzle, the 10’000 citizens here aren’t doing this for a paycheck. It’s an example of volunteers showing commitment to their party and hoping to grace the state's good books. Why bother with a jumbotron?

If you were amazed at the useless jobs that exist in North Korea, you might want to read our article about their cursed 3000-room hotel that's never had a single guest. Thanks for reading.

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