Korea, North

Map Korea, North
Maps copyright Hammond World Atlas Corp.

Flag of Korea, North


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 Il Sung'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. In 2010, KIM Jong Il began the process of preparing the way for his youngest son, KIM Jong Un, to succeed him in power. 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, long-range missile development, WMD programs including tests of nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009, and massive conventional armed forces are of major concern to the international community. The regime has marked 2012, the centenary of KIM Il Sung's birth, a banner year; to that end, the country has been focused on development of the economy.
Location: Eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea
Area land: 120,408 sq km
Area water: 130 sq km
Coastline: 2,495 km
Country name conventional long form: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Country name conventional short form: North Korea
Country name former: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Population: 24,457,492 (July 2011 est.)
Age structure: 0-14 years: 22.4% (male 2,766,006/female 2,700,378); 15-64 years: 68.6% (male 8,345,737/female 8,423,482); 65 years and over: 9.1% (male 738,693/female 1,483,196) (2011 est.);
Population growth rate: 0.538% (2011 est.)
Birth rate: 14.51 births/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Death rate: 9.08 deaths/1,000 population (July 2011 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2011 est.)
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.047 male(s)/female; under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female; 15-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female; 65 years and over: 0.64 male(s)/female; total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2011 est.);
Infant mortality rate: total: 27.11 deaths/1,000 live births; male: 30.04 deaths/1,000 live births; female: 24.05 deaths/1,000 live births (2011 est.);
Life expectancy at birth: total population: 68.89 years; male: 65.03 years; female: 72.93 years (2011 est.);
Total fertility rate: 2.02 children born/woman (2011 est.);
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate: NA;
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS: NA;
HIV/AIDS - deaths: NA;
Nationality: noun: Korean(s); adjective: Korean;
Ethnic groups: racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese;
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

Languages: Korean;
Literacy: definition: age 15 and over can read and write; total population: 99%; male: 99%; female: 99%;
GDP (purchasing power parity): $40 billion (2009 est.); $40 billion (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars;
North Korea does not publish reliable National Income Accounts data; the data shown here are 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 2009 using estimated real growth rates for North Korea's GDP and an inflation factor based on the US GDP deflator; the results were rounded to the nearest $10 billion.;
GDP (official exchange rate): $28 billion (2009 est.);
GDP - real growth rate: -0.9% (2009 est.); 3.7% (2008 est.);
GDP - per capita (PPP): $1,800 (2009 est.); $1,900 (2008 est.);
note: data are in 2010 US dollars

GDP - composition by sector: agriculture: 20.9%; industry: 46.9%; services: 32.1% (2002 est.);
Population below poverty line: NA%;
Household income or consumption by percentage share: lowest 10%: NA%; highest 10%: NA%;
Labor force: 12.2 million;
note: estimates vary widely (2009 est.)

Labor force - by occupation: agriculture: 35%; industry and services: 65% (2008 est.);
Unemployment rate: NA%;
Budget: revenues: $3.2 billion; expenditures: $3.3 billion (2007 est.);
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;
Industrial production growth rate: NA%;
Electricity - production: 22.5 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - consumption: 18.8 billion kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);
Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (2008 est.);

Statistics: CIA World Factbook.

North Korea in the News

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Displaying 5 to 8 of 29 items.

Russia Attempts to Bring Koreas Together

Though not without its snags, a proposed Russian pipeline would supply South Korea natural gas via North Korea, possibly thawing some of the icy tensions in the region.

Nuclear Matter

After American scientists were stunned to see the level of sophistication of North Korea's nuclear facilities, some are beginning to question whether Burma may also be advancing nuclear weapon capabilities under the radar.

Geopolitical Nuclear Regulation

Ad hoc nuclear regulation has created a mess, and a dangerous one, in the Middle East and parts of Asia. Forming a systemic basis for international law would be one step toward cleaning it up.

North Korea Offers to Halt Nuclear Program

Senior North Korean negotiators have expressed Pyongyang's willingness to reach an agreement in return for economic and financial concessions.