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Korea, North



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Introduction

Background: Following World War II, Korea was split into a northern, communist half and a southern, Western-oriented half. KIM Chong-il has ruled North Korea since his father and the country's founder, president KIM Il-sung, died in 1994. After decades of mismanagement, the North relies heavily on international food aid to feed its population, while continuing to expend resources to maintain an army of over 1 million, the fifth largest in the world. North Korea's long-range missile development and research into nuclear and chemical weapons are of major concern to the international community.

Geography

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

Map references: Asia

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

Area - comparative: slightly smaller than Mississippi

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

Coastline: 2,495 km

Maritime claims
  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)
  territorial sea: 12 nm

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: 14%
  permanent crops: 2%
  permanent pastures: 0%
  forests and woodland: 61%
  other: 23% (1993 est.)

Irrigated land: 14,600 sq km (1993 est.)

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

Environment - current issues: localized air pollution attributable to inadequate industrial controls; water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water

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

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

People

Population: 21,687,550 (July 2000 est.)

Age structure
  0-14 years: 26% (male 2,843,250; female 2,705,206)
  15-64 years: 68% (male 7,223,364; female 7,502,094)
  65 years and over: 6% (male 448,242; female 965,394) (2000 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.35% (2000 est.)

Birth rate: 20.43 births/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Death rate: 6.88 deaths/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2000 est.)

Sex ratio
  at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
  under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
  15-64 years: 0.96 male(s)/female
  65 years and over: 0.46 male(s)/female
  total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2000 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 24.29 deaths/1,000 live births (2000 est.)

Life expectancy at birth
  total population: 70.74 years
  male: 67.76 years
  female: 73.86 years (2000 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.3 children born/woman (2000 est.)

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 Korean
  total population: 99%
  male: 99%
  female: 99% (1990 est.)

Government

Country name
  conventional long form: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
  conventional short form: North Korea
  local long form: Choson-minjujuui-inmin-konghwaguk
  local short form: none (Note: the North Koreans generally use the term "Choson" to refer to their country)
  abbreviation: DPRK

Data code: KN

Government type: authoritarian socialist; one-man dictatorship

Capital: P'yongyang

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 3 special cities* (si, singular and plural); Chagang-do (Chagang Province), Hamgyong-bukto (North Hamgyong Province), Hamgyong-namdo (South Hamgyong Province), Hwanghae-bukto (North Hwanghae Province), Hwanghae-namdo (South Hwanghae Province), Kaesong-si* (Kaesong City), Kangwon-do (Kangwon Province), Namp'o-si* (Namp'o City), P'yongan-bukto (North P'yongan Province), P'yongan-namdo (South P'yongan Province), P'yongyang-si* (P'yongyang City), Yanggang-do (Yanggang Province)

Independence: 9 September 1948, Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) Foundation Day (Note: 15 August 1945, date of independence from the Japanese and celebrated in North Korea as National Liberation Day)

National holiday: Foundation Day, 9 September (1948)

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

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

Suffrage: 17 years of age; universal

Executive branch
  chief of state: KIM Chong-il (since NA July 1994); note - in September 1998, KIM Chong-il was reelected Chairman of the National Defense Commission, a position accorded the nation's "highest administrative authority"; KIM Young-nam was named President of the Supreme People's Assembly Presidium and given the responsibility of representing the state and receiving diplomatic credentials
  head of government: Premier HONG Song-nam (since 5 September 1998)
  cabinet: Cabinet (Naegak), members, except for the Minister of People's Armed Forces, are appointed by the Supreme People's Assembly
  elections: premier elected by the Supreme People's Assembly; election last held NA 1998 (next to be held NA)
  election results: HONG Song-nam elected premier; percent of Supreme People's Assembly vote - NA

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 26 July 1998 (next to be held NA 2003)
  election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - the KWP approves a single list of candidates who are elected without opposition; minor parties hold a few seats

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

Political parties and leaders: Chondoist Chongu Party [YU Mi-yong, chairwoman]; Korean Social Democratic Party [KIM Pyong-sik, chairman]; major party - Korean Workers' Party or KWP [KIM Chong-il, General Secretary]

International organization participation: ESCAP, FAO, ICAO, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO

Diplomatic representation in the US: none; note - North Korea has a Permanent Mission to the UN in New York, headed by YI Hyong-chol

Diplomatic representation from the US: none (Swedish Embassy in P'yongyang represents the US as consular protecting power)

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

Economy

Economy - overview: North Korea ranks among the world's most centrally planned and isolated economies. The resulting economic distortions and the government's reluctance to publicize economic data limit the amount of reliable information available. State-owned industry produces nearly all manufactured goods, and the regime continues to devote its focus on heavy and military industries at the expense of light and consumer industries. Economic conditions remain stagnant at best and the country's deepening economic slide has been fueled by acute energy shortages, poorly maintained and aging industrial facilities, and a lack of new investment. The agricultural outlook, though slightly improved over previous years, remains weak. The combined effects of serious fertilizer shortages, successive natural disasters, and structural constraints - such as marginal arable land and a short growing season - have reduced staple grain output to more than 1 million tons less than what the country needs to meet even minimum international requirements. The steady flow of international food aid has been critical in meeting the population's basic food needs. The impact of other forms of humanitarian assistance such as medical supplies and agricultural assistance largely has been limited to local areas. Even with aid, malnutrition rates are among the world's highest and estimates of mortality range in the hundreds of thousands as a direct result of starvation or famine-related diseases.

GDP: purchasing power parity - $22.6 billion (1999 est.)

GDP - real growth rate: 1% (1999 est.)

GDP - per capita: purchasing power parity - $1,000 (1999 est.)

GDP - composition by sector
  agriculture: 30%
  industry: 42%
  services: 28% (1999 est.)

Population below poverty line: NA%

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

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%

Labor force: 9.6 million

Labor force - by occupation: agricultural 36%, nonagricultural 64%

Unemployment rate: NA%

Budget
  revenues: $NA
  expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA

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

Industrial production growth rate: NA%

Electricity - production: 31.975 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - production by source
  fossil fuel: 34.4%
  hydro: 65.6%
  nuclear: 0%
  other: 0% (1998)

Electricity - consumption: 29.737 billion kWh (1998)

Electricity - exports: 0 kWh (1998)

Electricity - imports: 0 kWh (1998)

Agriculture - products: rice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, pulses; cattle, pigs, pork, eggs

Exports: $680 million (f.o.b., 1998 est.)

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

Exports - partners: Japan 28%, South Korea 21%, China 5%, Germany 4%, Russia 1% (1995)

Imports: $954 million (c.i.f., 1998 est.)

Imports - commodities: petroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment; consumer goods, grain

Imports - partners: China 33%, Japan 17%, Russia 5%, South Korea 4%, Germany 3% (1995)

Debt - external: $12 billion (1996 est.)

Economic aid - recipient: $NA; note - an estimated $200 million to $300 million in humanitarian aid from US, South Korea, Japan, and EU in 1997 plus much additional aid from the UN and non-governmental organizations

Currency: 1 North Korean won (Wn) = 100 chon

Exchange rates: official: North Korean won (Wn) per US$1 - 2.15 (May 1994), 2.13 (May 1992), 2.14 (September 1991), 2.1 (January 1990), 2.3 (December 1989); market: North Korean won (Wn) per US$1 - 200

Fiscal year: calendar year

Communications

Telephones - main lines in use: 1.1 million (1995)

Telephones - mobile cellular: 0 (1999)

Telephone system
  international: satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Russian (Indian Ocean Region); other international connections through Moscow and Beijing

Radio broadcast stations: AM 16, FM 14, shortwave 12 (1999)

Radios: 3.36 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 38 (1999)

Televisions: 1.2 million (1997)

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): NA

Transportation

Railways
  total: 5,000 km
  standard gauge: 4,095 km 1.435-m gauge (3,500 km electrified; 159 km double track)
  narrow gauge: 665 km 0.762-m gauge
  dual gauge: 240 km 1.435-m and 1.600-m gauges (four rails interlaced) (1996 est.)

Highways
  total: 31,200 km
  paved: 1,997 km
  unpaved: 29,203 km (1996 est.)

Waterways: 2,253 km; mostly navigable by small craft only

Pipelines: crude oil 37 km; petroleum product 180 km

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

Merchant marine
  total: 107 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 675,609 GRT/937,477 DWT
  ships by type: bulk 5, cargo 91, combination bulk 1, multi-functional large load carrier 1, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 4, short-sea passenger 2 (1999 est.)

Airports: 49 (1994 est.)

Airports - with paved runways
  total: 22
  over 3,047 m: 2
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 15
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
  914 to 1,523 m: 1
  under 914 m: 2 (1994 est.)

Airports - with unpaved runways
  total: 27
  2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
  1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
  914 to 1,523 m: 12
  under 914 m: 6 (1994 est.)

Military

Military branches: Korean People's Army (includes Army, Navy, Air Force), Civil Security Forces

Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower - availability
  males age 15-49: 5,853,635 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service
  males age 15-49: 3,527,760 (2000 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually
  males: 178,931 (2000 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $3.7 billion to $4.9 billion (FY98 est.)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 25% to 33% (FY98 est.)

Transnational Issues

Disputes - international: 33-km section of boundary with China in the Paektu-san (mountain) area is indefinite; Demarcation Line with South Korea

 

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