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  Korea, North   
Introduction
Geography
People
Government
Economy
Communications
Transportation
Military
Transnational
Issues
  Introduction Back To Top

Background:
An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula. Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Soviet-sponsored Communist control. After failing in the Korean War (1950-53) to conquer the US-backed Republic of Korea (ROK) in the southern portion by force, North Korea (DPRK), under its founder President KIM Il Sung, adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic "self-reliance" as a check against outside influence. The DPRK demonized the US as the ultimate threat to its social system through state-funded propaganda, and molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang's control. KIM's son, the current ruler KIM Jong Il, was officially designated as his father's successor in 1980, assuming a growing political and managerial role until the elder KIM's death in 1994. After decades of economic mismanagement and resource misallocation, the DPRK since the mid-1990s has relied heavily on international aid to feed its population. North Korea's history of regional military provocations, proliferation of military-related items, and long-range missile development - as well as its WMD programs and massive conventional armed forces - are of major concern to the international community. In December 2002, following revelations that the DPRK was pursuing a nuclear weapons program based on enriched uranium in violation of a 1994 agreement with the US to freeze and ultimately dismantle its existing plutonium-based program, North Korea expelled monitors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). In January 2003, it declared its withdrawal from the international Non-Proliferation Treaty. In mid-2003 Pyongyang announced it had completed the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel rods (to extract weapons-grade plutonium) and was developing a "nuclear deterrent." Beginning in August 2003, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, and the US have participated in the Six-Party Talks aimed at resolving the stalemate over the DPRK's nuclear programs. North Korea pulled out of the talks in November 2005. It test-fired ballistic missiles in July 2006 and conducted a nuclear test in October 2006. North Korea returned to the Six-Party Talks in December 2006 and subsequently signed two agreements on denuclearization. The 13 February 2007 Initial Actions Agreement led to the shut down of the North's nuclear facilities at Yongbyon in July 2007. In the 3 October 2007 Second Phase Actions Agreement, Pyongyang pledged to disable those facilities and provide a correct and complete declaration of its nuclear programs. Under the supervision of US nuclear experts, North Korean personnel completed a number of agreed-upon disablement actions at the three core facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex by the end of 2007. North Korea began the discharge of spent fuel rods in December 2007 and provided a declaration of its nuclear program in June 2008.

  Geography Back To Top

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 9.02 cu km/yr (20%/25%/55%)
per capita: 401 cu m/yr (2000)

Total renewable water resources:
77.1 cu km (1999)

Land boundaries:
total: 1,673 km
border countries: China 1,416 km, South Korea 238 km, Russia 19 km

Environment - international agreements:
party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Environmental Modification, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea

Climate:
temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer

Map references:
Asia

Geographic coordinates:
40 00 N, 127 00 E

Natural resources:
coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower

Elevation extremes:
lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Paektu-san 2,744 m

Terrain:
mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east

Geography - note:
strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated and sparsely populated

Area:
total: 120,540 sq km
land: 120,410 sq km
water: 130 sq km

Location:
Eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea

Coastline:
2,495 km

Area - comparative:
slightly smaller than Mississippi

Irrigated land:
14,600 sq km (2003)

Environment - current issues:
water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water; waterborne disease; deforestation; soil erosion and degradation

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
note: military boundary line 50 nm in the Sea of Japan and the exclusive economic zone limit in the Yellow Sea where all foreign vessels and aircraft without permission are banned

Natural hazards:
late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall

Land use:
arable land: 22.4%
permanent crops: 1.66%
other: 75.94% (2005)

  People Back To Top

Total fertility rate:
2 children born/woman (2008 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.57 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
NA

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
NA

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 72.2 years
male: 69.45 years
female: 75.08 years (2008 est.)

Literacy:
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99%

Net migration rate:
NA (2008 est.)

Ethnic groups:
racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese

Median age:
total: 32.7 years
male: 31.2 years
female: 34.2 years (2008 est.)

Population:
23,479,088 (July 2008 est.)

Education expenditures:
NA

Population growth rate:
0.732% (2008 est.)

Languages:
Korean

Death rate:
7.29 deaths/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 21.86 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 23.46 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.18 deaths/1,000 live births (2008 est.)

HIV/AIDS - deaths:
NA

Age structure:
0-14 years: 22.9% (male 2,733,352/female 2,654,186)
15-64 years: 68.2% (male 7,931,484/female 8,083,626)
65 years and over: 8.8% (male 751,401/female 1,325,040) (2008 est.)

Birth rate:
14.61 births/1,000 population (2008 est.)

Religions:
traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way)
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom

Nationality:
noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean

  Government Back To Top

Diplomatic representation from the US:
none; note - Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang represents the US as consular protecting power

National holiday:
Founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), 9 September (1948)

Suffrage:
17 years of age; universal

Government type:
Communist state one-man dictatorship

Political pressure groups and leaders:
none

Diplomatic representation in the US:
none; North Korea has a Permanent Mission to the UN in New York

International organization participation:
ARF, FAO, G-77, ICAO, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, IMO, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, NAM, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO

Legislative branch:
unicameral Supreme People's Assembly or Ch'oego Inmin Hoeui (687 seats; members elected by popular vote to serve five-year terms)
elections: last held 3 August 2003 (next to be held on 8 March 2009)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; ruling party approves a list of candidates who are elected without opposition; a token number of seats are reserved for minor parties

Legal system:
based on Prussian civil law system with Japanese influences and Communist legal theory; no judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

Flag description:
three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (triple width), and blue; the red band is edged in white; on the hoist side of the red band is a white disk with a red five-pointed star

Independence:
15 August 1945 (from Japan)

Country name (Goverment):
conventional long form: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
conventional short form: North Korea
local long form: Choson-minjujuui-inmin-konghwaguk
local short form: Choson
abbreviation: DPRK

Political parties and leaders:
major party - Korean Workers' Party or KWP [KIM Jong Il]; minor parties - Chondoist Chongu Party [RYU Mi Yong] (under KWP control), Social Democratic Party [KIM Yong Dae] (under KWP control)

Capital:
name: Pyongyang
geographic coordinates: 39 01 N, 125 45 E
time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC during Standard Time)

Constitution:
adopted 1948; completely revised 27 December 1972, revised again in April 1992, and September 1998

Executive branch:
chief of state: KIM Jong Il (since July 1994); note - on 3 September 2003, rubberstamp Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) reelected KIM Jong Il chairman of the National Defense Commission, a position accorded nation's "highest administrative authority"; SPA reelected KIM Yong Nam president of its Presidium also with responsibility of representing state and receiving diplomatic credentials
head of government: Premier KIM Yong Il (since 11 April 2007); Vice Premiers KWAK Pom Gi (since 5 September 1998), JON Sung Hun (since 3 September 2003), RO Tu Chol (since 3 September 2003), THAE Jong Su (since 16 October 2007)
cabinet: Naegak (cabinet) members, except for Minister of People's Armed Forces, are appointed by SPA
elections: last held in September 2003; date of next election NA
election results: KIM Jong Il and KIM Yong Nam were only nominees for positions and ran unopposed

Administrative divisions:
9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 4 municipalities (si, singular and plural)
provinces: Chagang-do (Chagang), Hamgyong-bukto (North Hamgyong), Hamgyong-namdo (South Hamgyong), Hwanghae-bukto (North Hwanghae), Hwanghae-namdo (South Hwanghae), Kangwon-do (Kangwon), P'yongan-bukto (North P'yongan), P'yongan-namdo (South P'yongan), Yanggang-do (Yanggang)
municipalities: Kaesong-si (Kaesong), Najin Sonbong-si (Najin-Sonbong), Namp'o-si (Namp'o), P'yongyang-si (Pyongyang)

Judicial branch:
Central Court (judges are elected by the Supreme People's Assembly)

  Economy Back To Top

Exports - partners:
South Korea 32%, China 29%, Thailand 9% (2006)

Electricity - consumption:
18.18 billion kWh (2006 est.)

Electricity - imports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Debt - external:
$12.5 billion (2001 est.)

Unemployment rate:
NA%

Oil - exports:
0 bbl/day (2006)

GDP - per capita (PPP):
$1,800 (2008 est.)

GDP (purchasing power parity):
$40 billion
note: North Korea does not publish any reliable National Income Accounts data; the datum shown here is derived from purchasing power parity (PPP) GDP estimates for North Korea that were made by Angus MADDISON in a study conducted for the OECD; his figure for 1999 was extrapolated to 2008 using estimated real growth rates for North Korea's GDP and an inflation factor based on the US GDP deflator; the result was rounded to the nearest $10 billion (2008 est.)

GDP (official exchange rate):
$26.2 billion (2008 est.)

Exchange rates:
North Korean won (KPW) per US dollar - 140 (2007), 141 (2006), 170 (December 2004), market rate: North Korean won per US dollar - 3,400 (October 2008)

GDP - real growth rate:
-1.1% (2008 est.)

Labor force:
20 million
note: estimates vary widely (2004 est.)

Imports - partners:
China 27%, South Korea 16%, Thailand 9%, Russia 7% (2006)

Inflation rate (consumer prices):
NA%

GDP - composition by sector:
agriculture: 23.3%
industry: 43.1%
services: 33.6% (2002 est.)

Oil - imports:
10,520 bbl/day (2007 est.)

Exports:
$1.466 billion f.o.b. (2006)

Natural gas - consumption:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Currency (code):
North Korean won (KPW)

Economy - overview:
North Korea, one of the world's most centrally directed and least open economies, faces chronic economic problems. Industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment and shortages of spare parts. Large-scale military spending draws off resources needed for investment and civilian consumption. Industrial and power output have declined in parallel from pre-1990 levels. Severe flooding in the summer of 2007 aggravated chronic food shortages caused by on-going systemic problems including a lack of arable land, collective farming practices, and persistent shortages of tractors and fuel. Large-scale international food aid deliveries have allowed the people of North Korea to escape widespread starvation since famine threatened in 1995, but the population continues to suffer from prolonged malnutrition and poor living conditions. Since 2002, the government has allowed private "farmers' markets" to begin selling a wider range of goods. It also permitted some private farming - on an experimental basis - in an effort to boost agricultural output. In October 2005, the government tried to reverse some of these policies by forbidding private sales of grains and reinstituting a centralized food rationing system. By December 2005, the government terminated most international humanitarian assistance operations in North Korea (calling instead for developmental assistance only) and restricted the activities of remaining international and non-governmental aid organizations such as the World Food Program. External food aid now comes primarily from China and South Korea in the form of grants and long-term concessional loans. In May 2008, the US agreed to give 500,000 metric tons of food to North Korea via the World Food Program and US nongovernmental organizations; Pyongyang began receiving these shipments in mid-2008. During the October 2007 summit, South Korea also agreed to develop some of North Korea's infrastructure, natural resources, and light industry, but inter-Korean economic cooperation slowed in 2008 as Pyongyang restricted tourism and manufacturing joint ventures in the North, and food aid from South Korea was suspended. Firm political control remains the Communist government's overriding concern, which will likely inhibit the loosening of economic regulations.

Natural gas - exports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Imports - commodities:
petroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment, textiles, grain

Industries:
military products; machine building, electric power, chemicals; mining (coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals), metallurgy; textiles, food processing; tourism

Electricity - exports:
0 kWh (2007 est.)

Population below poverty line:
NA%

Electricity - production:
21.72 billion kWh (2007 est.)

Imports:
$2.879 billion c.i.f. (2006)

Oil - proved reserves:
NA bbl

Labor force - by occupation:
agriculture: 37%
industry and services: 63% (2004 est.)

Natural gas - proved reserves:
0 cu m (1 January 2007)

Oil - consumption:
24,000 bbl/day (2006 est.)

Currency code:
KPW

Household income or consumption by percentage share:
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%

Exports - commodities:
minerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments), textiles, agricultural and fishery products

Economic aid - recipient:
$372 million
note: approximately 65,000 metric tons in food aid through the World Food Program appeals in 2007, plus additional aid from bilateral donors and non-governmental organizations (2007 est.)

Electricity - production by source:
fossil fuel: 29%
hydro: 71%
nuclear: 0%
other: 0% (2001)

Natural gas - imports:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Natural gas - production:
0 cu m (2007 est.)

Budget:
revenues: $2.88 billion $NA
expenditures: $2.98 billion $NA

Fiscal year:
calendar year

Oil - production:
141 bbl/day (2007 est.)

  Communications Back To Top

Internet users:
NA

Telephones - main lines in use:
1.18 million (2007)

Televisions:
1.2 million (1997)

Internet country code:
.kp

Radio broadcast stations:
AM 17 (including 11 stations of Korean Central Broadcasting Station; North Korea has a "national intercom" cable radio station wired throughout the country that is a significant source of information for the average North Korean citizen; it is wired into most residences and workplaces and carries news and commentary), FM 14, shortwave 14 (2006)

Radios:
3.36 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations:
4 (includes Korean Central Television, Mansudae Television, Korean Educational and Cultural Network, and Kaesong Television targeting South Korea) (2003)

Telephone system:
general assessment: inadequate system; currently no mobile cellular telephone services
domestic: fiber-optic links installed between cities; telephone directories unavailable; mobile cellular service, initiated in 2002, terminated in 2004; in January 2008 Orascom Telecom, an Egyptian company, announced that it had been granted a commercial license to provide mobile telephone services in North Korea
international: country code - 850; satellite earth stations - 2 (1 Intelsat - Indian Ocean, 1 Russian - Indian Ocean region); other international connections through Moscow and Beijing (2008)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
1 (2000)

  Transportation Back To Top

Waterways:
2,250 km (most navigable only by small craft) (2008)

Pipelines:
oil 154 km (2007)

Railways:
total: 5,235 km
standard gauge: 5,235 km 1.435-m gauge (3,500 km electrified) (2006)

Ports and terminals:
Ch'ongjin, Haeju, Hungnam (Hamhung), Kimch'aek, Kosong, Najin, Namp'o, Sinuiju, Songnim, Sonbong (formerly Unggi), Ungsang, Wonsan

Heliports:
23 (2007)

Merchant marine:
total: 167
by type: bulk carrier 11, cargo 121, carrier 1, chemical tanker 4, container 3, passenger/cargo 3, petroleum tanker 19, refrigerated cargo 4, roll on/roll off 1
foreign-owned: 19 (Egypt 1, Greece 1, Lebanon 1, Lithuania 1, Romania 4, Syria 1, UAE 8, Yemen 2)
registered in other countries: 2 (Mongolia 1, Panama 1) (2008)

Airports - with paved runways:
total: 36
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 22
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 3 (2007)

Roadways:
total: 25,554 km
paved: 724 km
unpaved: 24,830 km (2006)

Airports - with unpaved runways:
total: 41
2,438 to 3,047 m: 2
1,524 to 2,437 m: 19
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 7 (2007)

Airports:
77 (2007)

  Military Back To Top

Military service age and obligation:
17 years of age (2004)

Manpower available for military service:
males age 16-49: 6,225,747
females age 16-49: 6,188,270 (2008 est.)

Manpower fit for military service:
males age 16-49: 5,141,240
females age 16-49: 5,139,447 (2008 est.)

Military branches:
North Korean People's Army: Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force; civil security forces (2005)

Manpower reaching militarily significant age annually:
male: 199,628
female: 192,388 (2008 est.)

Military expenditures:
NA

  Transnational Issues Back To Top

Disputes - international:
risking arrest, imprisonment, and deportation, tens of thousands of North Koreans cross into China to escape famine, economic privation, and political oppression; North Korea and China dispute the sovereignty of certain islands in Yalu and Tumen rivers; Military Demarcation Line within the 4-km wide Demilitarized Zone has separated North from South Korea since 1953; periodic incidents in the Yellow Sea with South Korea which claims the Northern Limiting Line as a maritime boundary; North Korea supports South Korea in rejecting Japan's claim to Liancourt Rocks (Tok-do/Take-shima)

Refugees and internally displaced persons:
IDPs: undetermined (flooding in mid-2007 and famine during mid-1990s) (2007)

Trafficking in persons:
current situation: North Korea is a source country for men, women, and children trafficked for the purposes of forced labor and commercial sexual exploitation; the most common form of trafficking involves North Korean women and girls who cross the border into China voluntarily; additionally, North Korean women and girls are lured out of North Korea to escape poor social and economic conditions by the promise of food, jobs, and freedom, only to be forced into prostitution, marriage, or exploitative labor arrangements once in China
tier rating: Tier 3 - North Korea does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government does not acknowledge the existence of human rights abuses in the country or recognize trafficking, either within the country or transnationally; North Korea has not ratified the 2000 UN TIP Protocol (2008)

Illicit drugs:
for years, from the 1970s into the 2000s, citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea (DPRK), many of them diplomatic employees of the government, were apprehended abroad while trafficking in narcotics, including two in Turkey in December 2004; police investigations in Taiwan and Japan in recent years have linked North Korea to large illicit shipments of heroin and methamphetamine, including an attempt by the North Korean merchant ship Pong Su to deliver 150 kg of heroin to Australia in April 2003

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