A Brief Timeline of North Korea Doing Insane and Terrifying Things

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Last night, North Korea unexpectedly decided to test a nuclear bomb without the common courtesy of telling anybody first. But it's just the latest in a long line of terrifying and crazy things that the country gets up to.

Led by a single family since 1948—first Kim Il-sung, then later Jong-Il and now Jong-un—North Korea has a rich history chequered with both comical and tragic stories. Here's a potted timeline of everything weird and frightful that's come out of the DPRK since its founding.

  • 1950: After just two years of being a country, North Korea invades South Korea because why not? This, as you might have guessed, kicks off the Korean War.
  • 1950s: Soviet Union decides to be helpful, giving North Korea the means to start its nuclear program.
  • 1950s: North Korea constructs Kijong-dong, a fake city situated in the DMZ meant to lure South Korean defectors. It's still there—and uninhabited—today.
  • 1965(ish) Jong-il claims in his biography to have written no fewer than 1,500 books in his three years at university.
  • 1976: Two US Army officers killed by North Korean soldiers in what is known as the Axe Murder Incident. The pair were brutally murdered for pruning a poplar tree.
  • 1978: Kim Jong-Il, not yet ascended to leadership, kidnaps famed South Korean director Shin Sang-ok to help jumpstart North Korea's burgeoning propaganda film industry. He makes seven films before finally escaping in 1986.
  • 1985: North Korea signs up to the nuclear non-proliferation treaty. Totally normal at the time, a little insane in retrospect given...
  • 1986: Yongbyon nuclear reactor put into operation. Powered by uranium, it was capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium.
  • 1991: North Korea somehow joins the UN.
  • 1994: Kim Jong-il purportedly tries his hand at golf for the first time, managing a 38-under par round that included no fewer than 11 holes in one. Satisfied, he immediately declared his retirement from the sport.
  • 1998: Taepodong-1, a two-stage intermediate-range ballistic missile, developed and tested. US claims North Korea is developing nuclear weapons at secret sites.
  • 2003: North Korea withdraws from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (naturally).
  • 2004: Jong-il claims the invention of the hamburger as his own.
  • 2005: North Korea publicly declares its has nuclear weapons.
  • 2006: First(?) nuclear test in the North Korea. US officials suggest that it was probably a misfire. Whoops!
  • 2007: A smoking ban is imposed on the entire city of Pyongyang, to prevent Kim Jong-il from being exposed to secondhand smoke during his recovery from surgery.
  • 2008: Kim Jong-il reportedly schemes to remove all short people from Pyongyang by promising them access to a miraculous heightening drug, then kidnapping them.
  • 2008: A 50-year-old female South Korean tourist is shot down by a North Korean soldier for stumbling into 'military territory' in... the Keumgang Mountain Tourist Region.
  • 2009: North Korea launches a rocket called Unha in the general direction of Japan, in what appears to be an advanced preview of WWIII. Second nuclear test.

Image credit: Wiki Commons