History of Korea:
Up to 600 AD - 3 kingdoms vying for power .
ca. 600AD - 1910 Chosun dynasty (one of the longest-lived monarchy in the world).
Strong caste system with different dress. Noblemen wore white shirts and top-knots inspired by Confucius and horse hair hat. Slaves wore wooden label around their necks.
1910- 1945 Japanese rule
Post 1945 arbitrary split along the 38th parallel. Korea a buffer state thought to prevent the USSR getting too strong a foothold near to Japan.
1950 Korean war. 3 years fighting and 3 million lives later old border re-established.
1953 Purges - of competitors and then ordinary people.
Each person had eight background checks to provide a song-bun in a survey to assess loyalty.
A new caste system established with Kim Il-sung as 'emperor' and 3 broad classes: core, wavering and hostile.
The hostile included kisaeng (similar to geisha) and mudung (shaman), Christians, Buddhists, and people politically suspect including landowners and people suspected of being pro US or pro-Japan.
Joining the Workers' Party meant best jobs and locations but closely watched by neighbours.
Inmiban - 'people's group' co-operative of 20 or so families whose job is to keep tabs on each other and organise neighbourhood. Elected leader is a middle-aged woman who reports anything suspicious to higher authorities.
Beulsun - 'tainted blood' permanent, immutable and heredity.
buk nyeo, nam nam. northern women, southern men.
kochebi homeless children, swallows
North Korean women do not take their husband's surnames, but retain their own names.