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North Korea

North Korea Guide. North Korea Country Profile.

Country Profile: North Korea.

Fact: In North Korea, only military and government officials can own motor vehicles.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), commonly known as North Korea, is located on the northern portion of the Korean Peninsula. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang. The Korean Demilitarized Zone serves as the buffer zone between North Korea and North Korea – although the armistice of 1953 ended armed conflict on the Korean peninsula, the two Koreas are technically still at war; tensions have been exacerbated in recent decades by North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. The Amnok River and the Tumen River form the border between North Korea and the People’s Republic of China. A section of the Tumen River in the far northeast is the border with Russia.

North Korea has an industrialized, near-autarkic, highly centralized command economy. Of the five remaining Communist states in the world, North Korea is one of only two (along with Cuba) with an almost entirely government-planned, state-owned economy. The Central Planning Committee prepares, supervises and implements economic plans, while a General Bureau of Provincial Industry in each region is responsible for the management of local manufacturing facilities, production, resource allocation, and sales.

Even though international trade is highly restricted, North Korea passed a law in 1984 allowing for foreign investment through joint ventures. In 1991, the Rason Economic Special Zone was established in an attempt to attract foreign investment from China and Russia. Chinese and Russian companies have purchased rights to use the ports at Rason.

:: Background of North Korea ::

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, 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.

:: Geography of North Korea ::

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

Geographic coordinates: 40 00 N, 127 00 E

Area:
total: 120,538 sq km
land: 120,408 sq km
water: 130 sq km

Area – comparative: slightly smaller than Mississippi
Land boundaries: 1,673 km
Coastline: 2,495 km

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

Climate: temperate, with rainfall concentrated in summer
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east

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

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

Land use:
arable land: 22.4%
permanent crops: 1.66%
other: 75.94% (2005)
Irrigated land: 14,600 sq km (2003)
Total renewable water resources: 77.1 cu km (1999)
Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural):
total: 9.02 cu km/yr (20%/25%/55%)
per capita: 401 cu m/yr (2000)
Natural hazards: late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall; volcanism: Changbaishan (elev. 2,744 m, 9,003 ft) (also known as Baitoushan, Baegdu or P’aektu-san), on the Chinese border, is considered historically active

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

Environment – international agreements: party to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution; signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
Geography – note: strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated and sparsely populated

:: People of North Korea ::

Population: 22,757,275 (July 2010 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 21.3% (male 2,440,439/female 2,376,557)
15-64 years: 69.4% (male 7,776,889/female 7,945,399)
65 years and over: 9.4% (male 820,504/female 1,305,557) (2010 est.)

Median age:
total: 33.9 years
male: 32.5 years
female: 35.2 years (2010 est.)

Population growth rate: 0.389% (2010 est.)
Birth rate: 14.58 births/1,000 population (2010 est.)
Death rate: 10.6 deaths/1,000 population (July 2010 est.)
Net migration rate: -0.09 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2010 est.)
Urbanization:
urban population: 63% of total population (2008)
rate of urbanization: 0.9% annual rate of change (2005-10 est.)

Sex ratio:
at birth: 1.06 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 (2010 est.)

Infant mortality rate:
total: 50.15 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 57.39 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 42.47 deaths/1,000 live births (2010 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 64.13 years
male: 61.53 years
female: 66.89 years (2010 est.)

Total fertility rate: 1.94 children born/woman (2010 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%

Education expenditures: NA