While life in North Korea isn't a laughing matter, tough times have given birth to a unique sense of humor. According to defectors who have escaped Kim Jong Il's tight grip, jokes in the Stalinist country revolved around the regime, or the male reaction to women working outside the home to help families scrape by.
Here are some examples pulled together from Radio Free Asia.
Two men are talking on a Pyongyang subway train:
“How are you, comrade?”
“Fine, how are you doing?”
“Comrade, by any chance, do you work for the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party?”
“No, I don’t.”
“Have you worked for the Central Committee before?”
“No, I haven’t.”
“Then, are any of your family members working for the Central Committee?”
“Then, get away from me! You’re standing on my foot!”
At High School No. 1 in Pyongyang, a girl brags to her teacher about the cat she’s got at home: “Our cat has just given birth to seven kittens. All of them just stick close to their mother, they feel really comfortable, and sleep all the time. They’re all true communists.”
A few days later, the teacher asks the girl: “Are the communist kittens at home growing up nicely?”
The girl says: “Comrade teacher, big trouble! They’ve all opened their eyes, and they’ve all renounced communism!”
To see a few more examples,
Chang Man Yong works on a collective farm in North Korea. He goes fishing, gets lucky and brings a fish home. Happy about his catch, he tells his wife: “Look what I’ve got. Shall we eat fried fish today?”
The wife says: “We’ve got no cooking oil!”
“Shall we stew it, then?”
“We’ve got no pot!”
“Shall we grill it?”
“We’ve got no firewood!”
Chang Man Yong gets angry, goes back to the river, and throws the fish back into the water. The fish, happy to have had such a narrow escape, sticks its head out of the water and cheerfully yells: “Long live General Kim Jong Il!"
- An Englishman, a Frenchman and a North Korean are having a chat. The Englishman says: “I feel happiest when I’m at home, my wool pants on, sitting in front of the fireplace.”
The Frenchman, a ladies’ man, says: “You, English people, are so conventional. I feel happiest when I go to a Mediterranean beach with a beautiful blond-haired woman, and we do what we’ve got to do on the way back.”
The North Korean man says: “In the middle of the night, the secret police knocks on the door, shouting: Kang Sung-Mee, you’re under arrest! And I say, Kang Sung-Mee doesn’t live here, but right next door! That’s when we’re happiest!”
Jokes sure do give a peek inside this isolated country.