By Jenna Gibson
Big news out of Pyongyang – a North Korean factory has made the world’s first hangover-free alcohol.
Or so they say.
North Korea has long been the butt of jokes, many of them centered on country’s eccentric leaders. This stems in part from curiosity – because news from North Korea is so rare, every crazy rumor is devoured with glee. And with over-the-top claims like this one, the entertainment factor is even greater.
From the superhero-esque origin stories of the Kim family to the fantastical inventions they have gifted to the world, here are five of the most outrageous claims from North Korea.
1. North Korean scientists have cured cancer, Ebola, MERS, and AIDS
Originally produced in the 90s, the miraculous Kumdang-2 has been a point of pride for North Korea for years. When Ebola fears wracked the world in 2014, North Korea touted the power of this injection to both prevent and treat the deadly disease (meanwhile, they shut out foreign tourists for six months, just to be safe). And again in 2015, while its neighbor to the South was battling an outbreak of Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Pyongyang boasted that Kumdang-2 would take care of that too.
According to the Korean Central News Agency, the drug is produced from a local variety of ginseng mixed with rare-earth elements and small amounts of gold and platinum. According to The Guardian, a Moscow-based distributor lists a basic course of injections at 1,500 rubles ($18.35).
2. Kim Jong-il is a golf genius
In 1994, Kim Jong-il made golf history when he shot a round of golf at 38-under par. It was, of course, the first time he had ever played. This amazing round, which was played on North Korea’s only golf course, included 11 holes-in-one. For reference, the lowest score in a PGA Tour tournament was 33-under, set by Steve Stricker in 2009.
Naturally, after his successful record-smashing round Kim Jong-il announced his immediate retirement from golf.
3. Kim Jong-il found a cure for shortness
Along with the many communicable diseases North Korea has cured, they have also claimed mastery over genetics. In 1989, the government announced the discovery of a drug that would cure shortness, and distributed pamphlets encouraging citizens to try it out.
In actuality, the dictator (who was only 5’3” himself), rounded up those who came to claim their dose of the treatment and exiled them to uninhabited islands.
4. Kim Jong-un was a child prodigy in various fields
Following in the footsteps of his father, North Korea’s current leader was a miracle worker from a very young age. By his 3rd birthday, he was learning to drive. And when a foreign yacht company executive visited North Korea, a 9-year-old Kim Jong-un trounced him in a sailing race.
These claims have all been included in middle and high school textbooks as part of a new required subject called “Kim Jong-un’s Revolutionary Activities,” which was introduced in 2015.
5. North Korea just successfully tested a hydrogen bomb
Starting off 2016 with a bang, on January 6 North Korea announced that it had conducted a successful test of a hydrogen bomb. Seismic data confirmed that a test had indeed been carried out…but it was almost certainly not an H-bomb. In an interview with CCTV America, KEI Senior Director for Congressional Affairs and Trade Troy Stangarone noted that the yield of a true H-bomb would be significantly greater than what was in fact detected from this test.
Jenna Gibson is the Director of Communications at the Korea Economic Institute of America. The views expressed here are the author’s alone.
Photo from Stephan’s photostream on flickr Creative Commons.