Democratic People's Republic of Korea – better known as simply North Korea – hit the headlines again this week, after it was linked to a major cybersecurity breach of Sony Pictures.

North Korea is possible the only truly Communist regime left in the world. Since the Cold War ended the people of most communist states turned away from the controlling regimes to embrace democracy. Even China and Cuba are adapting the socialist revolutionary philosophies they were based on, and are embracing capitalism and free market economies.

In North Korea, this is not the case. The State owns everything, and controls everything: including the hearts and minds of its citizens.

A secretive regime, its nearly impossible for journalists to venture outside Pyongyang – the capital city which acts as a showcase for North Korea and it's regime, designed to convince the world that the DPRK is a successful and thriving state. But the country's economy is seen as virtually lifeless, due to decades of mismanagement, isolationist policies by the Kim dynasty, and international sanctions aimed at foiling its nuclear ambitions.

But those who manage to get out of the few cities, or escape the country, report widespread poverty, disease and starvation. In March 2011, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that 6 million North Koreans – a quarter of its population – needed food aid and a third of children were chronically malnourished or stunted.

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Smoke billow from a plant near a residential district in Pyongyang April 11, 2012Bobby Yip/Reuters
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A North Korean woman and soldiers look at a Chinese tour boat from the banks of the Yalu River near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of DandongJason Lee/Reuters
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A waitress at a restaurant watches a state media television broadcast of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un attending a party meeting in PyongyangBobby Yip/Reuters
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Korean War veterans react as they shout slogans to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a parade to mark the 60th anniversary of the signing of a truce in the 1950-1953 Korean War at Kim Il-sung Square, in Pyongyang. North Korea celebrated the anniversarywith a massive military parade, trumpeting the revolutionary genius of three generations of leaders that gave it 'Victory in the Great Fatherland Liberation War'Jason Lee/Reuters
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Labourers work at a construction site in PyongyangJason Lee/Reuters
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A North Korean shop assistant works at a shop in PyongyangJason Lee/Reuters
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North Korean soldiers and residents run to greet North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (not pictured) as he arrives to visit a military unit on an island in the most southwest of PyongyangKCNA/Reuters
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A dancer dressed as a soldier takes part in a gala show in Pyongyang. The performance was part of the celebration on the centenary of the birth of the country's first leader: Kim Il-sungBobby Yip/Reuters
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Dancers perform in front of a fireworks display during a gala show in Pyongyang April 16, 2012. The performance was part of the celebration on the centenary of the birth of Kim Il-sungBobby Yip/Reuters
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Women work in the Kim Jong-suk Pyongyang Silk Mill in Pyongyang April 9, 2012. The factory is named after the wife of North Korea founder Kim Il-sungBobby Yip/Reuters
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Villagers travel in a truck in a field northwest of PyongyangBobby Yip/Reuters
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A North Korean traffic policewoman working in central PyongyangReinhard Krause/Reuters
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Pak Su Dong, manager of the Soksa-Ri cooperative farm in an area hit by floods and typhoons in 2011, shows damage to one of his plantsDamir Sagolj/Reuters
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North Korean students and volunteers work to repair water supply system in Haeju, capital of the South Hwanghae province, whcih was hit by floods and typhoons in 2011Damir Sagolj/Reuters
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North Korean soldiers dig up eatable plants on the banks of the Yalu River near the North Korean town of Sinuiju, opposite the Chinese border city of DandongJacky Chen/Reuters