What is going on inside North Korea’s house?
There is no bathroom in the house. Baths were only available in homes of middle-level or higher levels of party or government agencies. In my home, when I was washing my body, I brought a tub to the kitchen and took a bath. (Lu Jinzhu, “North Korea Seen by a Girl”)
North Korea’s propaganda, and occasionally workers’ homes with televisions and refrigerators, are mentioned, but only for the wealthy families. In North Korea, about 10 percent of households have TVs, and less than 1 percent in refrigerators.
The household goods of many locals are like pots for tea dance, futons, pots and kimchi. (Yun Dae-il “Public Security Police in the North”)
A small middle-aged woman named Ms. Yoon Ok-chun, the head of the 36th People’s Group, entered the room. At the housewife’s recommendation, he sat cross-legged on a warm yellowish linoleum floor.
The room, which is not very large but comfortable, seems to have no more than 10 square meters. It has wooden shelves, a Japanese radio, several small tables covered with a cloth, and a vase with windows in the town. In the adjoining room, there was a low can (like a Chinese-style hot spring [ondol]) that looked like a substitute for a chest of drawers and a Western-style bed. Slightly warm when sitting on the floor.
It uses the country’s traditional heating system, known as a “warm bump” with hot air pipes under the floor. (Alexander Zhebin, The Gold Dynasty I See)
I was invited to a house where Kim Il Sung visited when I taught at the site, but in a small house without enclosures there were two pigs in a poor house and a pig house, five chickens in a chicken house, and a rabbit in a rabbit house Several rabbits were bought.
The small, clean, white-painted house had only two rooms, separated by a kitchen and a door. The size of the room is between 14 and 5 square meters between two rooms. One bookshelf, two wardrobes, a sewing machine, and one low round table-we sat directly on the floor around this table. This is all about household goods. From every side of the wall, Kim Il Sung looked down on us.
There are three portraits of Kim Il-sung in the two rooms, and of course the large wall calendar has photos of Kim Il-sung.
The lighting was one with a bare bulb hanging without an umbrella and a little light, and one with a fluorescent light. One light per room-this is the standard of the common people in this country. And the light is less than 40 watts. Even if you want to get a light bulb of 40 watts or more, you cannot sell it to the residents. (Ibid.)
At our house, like other homes, there were speakers that broadcast Pyongyang programs. From it came the news of the beloved leader Comrade Kim Jong Il and the songs dedicated to him or made in honor of his father’s glory. In some homes the speakers hurt and ceased to sound, but in my house they were not so well maintained. There was a radio in my house and I could listen to Pyongyang broadcasts. (Chang Ki-hon, North Korean Children)