The Lottery in North Korea
International pariah, North Korea is one of the most misunderstood nations in the world. Actually, it’s not, we just wanted to get your attention. In fact, NK, as you probably know, is a complete basket-case of a country which still thinks that Stalinism is relevant in the 21st century. However, it seems that the Dear leader Kim Jong-Un, or whatever he’s called, does know how to keep the populace distracted from the brutal realities of his utterly vile regime. To add a bit of cheer, he’s authorised the installation of lottery booths in Pyongyang City.
Grainy pictures provided by an ‘anonymous’ source within the country show a pair of dilapidated buildings emblazoned with posters about the amazing prizes available. It appears that the jackpot is a portable computer which can be claimed by correctly picking 5 numbers. Presumably they’ll put a plug on it if you pick the bonus ball. You’ll also need to match 5 digits for the runners up prize as well which seems to be a tablet of some sort. The poor sods that get 4 numbers right are presented with an overcoat for their troubles, while children’s clothes are reserved for the cowering ticket-holders who managed to guess 2 numbers.
There are five different games in all, each with their own unique drawing method. The first is decided by the Yunnori technique (like dice-throwing but with wooden sticks) while the other methods are rather more cryptic. One of them is called Myo-Tree Lots which is so obscure that nobody actually knows how it works. Handy, if you’re a communist lottery operator although it’s safe to say that Camelot won’t be taking notes any time soon.
The very concept of a North Korean lottery seems slightly odd. After all, the game is usually associated with ‘the decadent capitalist imperialist pigs living in a cesspool of evils’ (that means us). So why have these booths been installed? Well, you may want to stop humming Scorpion’s Wind of Change because, alas, they have nothing to do with any sort of political détente. In fact, the DPRK government has flirted with lotteries since the 1950s as a means of raising money. The first game was called the ‘Motherland Defence Lottery’. However, this didn’t really take off with the general public who were presumably more preoccupied with surviving poverty, disease, famine and oppression.
However, not to be put off the powers came up with another lottery some 40 years later. This one offered a prize of $235 million and was called the ‘People’s Lottery’ with half of the proceeds going to the uh, state. The idea was to generate enough money to give then leader Kim II Sung, a lavish birthday celebration. Then in 2002, the first ever lottery website was launched from a server somewhere in Pyongyang. But for one reason or another, this didn’t last very long either and was taken offline soon after. Judging by the photographs that we’ve seen, North Korea’s latest forays into the world of lotteries will also be rather short-lived. If only the same could be said of its unconscionable regime.