North Korea is a nation of twenty four-and-a-half million people in eastern Asia, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea.
Its major environmental issues include:
- Water pollution;
- Inadequate supplies of potable water;
- Widespread waterborne disease;
- Deforestation; and,
- Soil erosion and degradation
North Korea is susceptible to late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding. There are occasional typhoons during the early fall.
Its mountainous interior is isolated and sparsely populated.
Changbaishan (elev. 2,744 meters) (also known as Baitoushan, Baegdu or P'aektu-san), on the Chinese border, is considered an historically active volcano.
An independent Korean state or collection of states has existed almost continuously for several millennia. Between its initial unification in the 7th century - from three predecessor Korean states - until the 20th century, Korea existed as a single country. It became a Chinese tributary state in 1392 with the formation of the Choson Dynasty. Korea became an independent country at the conclusion of the Sino-Japanese War in 1895 with the Treaty of Shimonoseki.
Imperial Japan, following the Russo-Japanese War in 1905, forced Korea to sign the Protectorate Treaty. In 1910 Tokyo annexed the Peninsula. Korea regained its independence following Japan's surrender to the United States in 1945.
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.
A Military Demarcation Line within the 4-km wide Demilitarized Zone has separated North from South Korea since 1953. Periodic incidents have occured in the Yellow Sea with South Korea which claims the Northern Limiting Line as a maritime boundary.
Kim Il Sung's son, 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 2009, 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 with its central planning system, 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 heightened its focus on developing its economy and improving its people's livelihoods.
Kim Jong Il died in December 2011.
North Korea has a strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia.
Risking arrest, imprisonment, and deportation, tens of thousands of North Koreans cross into China to escape famine, economic privation, and political oppression.
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: 120,540 sq km (land: 120,410 sq km; water: 130 sq km )
Land Boundaries: 1,673 km (China 1,416 km, South Korea 238 km, Russia 19 km)
Coastline: 2,495 km
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
Note: There exists a 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
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east The highest point is Paektu-san (2,744 m).
Climate: temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer
Topology of North Korea. Source: Wikimedia Commons.
Ecology and Biodiversity
People and Society
Population: 24,589,122 (July 2012 est.)
Ethnic Groups: racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese
0-14 years: 22.4% (male 2,766,006/female 2,700,378)
Population Growth Rate: 0.535% (2012 est.)
Birthrate: 14.51 births/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Death Rate: 9.12 deaths/1,000 population (July 2012 est.)
Net Migration Rate: -0.04 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2012 est.)
Life Expectancy at Birth: 69.2 years
male: 65.34 years
Total Fertility Rate: 2.01 children born/woman (2012 est.)
Literacy (age 15 and over can read and write): 99% (1991 est.)
Urbanization: 60% of total population (2010) growing at an annual rate of change of 0.6% (2010-15 est.)
Source: World Wildlife fund
|Nighttime lights on the Korean Peninsula show the strak differences in development and energy use between North Korea and South Korea and with China to the north. Source: NASA|
|This Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS) image from May 1, 2003, shows southeastern China (top), North Korea (center) and South Korea (bottom). The higher elevations and more northern latitudes are lagging behind the new growth of spring vegetation visible across South Korea. Large areas of North Korea, especially the western coast, are deforested, probably contributing to the large volumes of sediment run-off swirling in the coastal waters. A few scattered fires have been marked with red dots. Source: NASA|
Baitoushan Volcano, China and North Korea
One of the largest known eruptions of the modern geologic period (the Holocene) occurred at Baitoushan Volcano (also known as Changbaishan in China and P'aektu-san in Korea) about 1000 A.D., with erupted material deposited as far away as northern Japan—a distance of approximately 1,200 kilometers. The eruption also created the 4.5-kilometer-diameter, 850-meter-deep summit caldera of the volcano, which is now filled with the waters of Lake Tianchi (or Sky Lake). This oblique astronaut photograph was taken during the winter season, and snow highlights frozen Lake Tianchi and lava flow lobes along the southern face of the volcano.
|Hamhung, the second largest city in North Korea. Source: Raymond K. Cunningham, Jr./Wikimedia Commons|
|Chongjin, the second largest city in North Korea. Source: Raymond K. Cunningham, Jr./Wikimedia Commons|
|Lake Samilpo. Source: Wuikimedia Commons|
|Kuryong Falls, Geumgangsan (Mount Kumgang). Source: Allen R Francis/Wikimedia commons|
The Korean Peninsula was first populated by peoples of a Tungusic branch of the Ural-Altaic language family, who migrated from the northwestern regions of Asia. Some of these peoples also populated parts of northeast China (Manchuria); Koreans and Manchurians still show physical similarities. Koreans are racially and linguistically homogeneous. Although there are no indigenous minorities in North Korea, there is a small Chinese community (about 50,000) and some 1,800 Japanese wives who accompanied the roughly 93,000 ethnic Koreans returning to the North from Japan between 1959 and 1962. Although dialects exist, the Korean language spoken throughout the peninsula is mutually comprehensible. In North Korea, the Korean alphabet (hangul) is used exclusively.
Korea's traditional religions are Buddhism and Shamanism. Christian missionaries arrived as early as the 16th century, but it was not until the 19th century that major missionary activity began. Pyongyang was a center of missionary activity, and there was a relatively large Christian population in the north before 1945. Although religious groups exist in North Korea today, the government severely restricts religious activity.
By the first century AD, the Korean Peninsula was divided into the kingdoms of Shilla, Koguryo, and Paekche. In 668 AD, the Shilla kingdom unified the peninsula. The Koryo dynasty--from which Portuguese missionaries in the 16th century derived the Western name "Korea"--succeeded the Shilla kingdom in 935. The Choson dynasty, ruled by members of the Yi clan, supplanted Koryo in 1392 and lasted until Japan annexed Korea in 1910.
Throughout its history, Korea has been invaded, influenced, and fought over by its larger neighbors. Korea was under Mongolian occupation from 1231 until the early 14th century. The unifier of Japan, Hideyoshi Toyotomi, launched major invasions of Korea in 1592 and 1597. When Western powers focused "gunboat" diplomacy on Korea in the mid-19th century, Korea's rulers adopted a closed-door policy, earning Korea the title of "Hermit Kingdom." Although the Choson dynasty recognized China's hegemony in East Asia, Korea was independent until the late 19th century. At that time, China sought to block growing Japanese influence on the Korean Peninsula and Russian pressure for commercial gains there. The competition produced the Sino-Japanese War of 1894-95 and the Russo-Japanese War of 1904-05. Japan emerged victorious from both wars and in 1910 annexed Korea as part of the growing Japanese empire. Japanese colonial administration was characterized by tight control from Tokyo and ruthless efforts to supplant Korean language and culture. Organized Korean resistance during the colonial era was generally unsuccessful, and Japan remained firmly in control of the Peninsula until the end of World War II in 1945. The surrender of Japan in August 1945 led to the immediate division of Korea into two occupation zones, with the United States administering the area south of the 38th parallel, and the Soviet Union administering the area to the north of the 38th parallel. This division was meant to be temporary until the United States, United Kingdom, Soviet Union, and China could arrange a trusteeship administration.
In December 1945, a conference was convened in Moscow to discuss the future of Korea. A 5-year trusteeship was discussed, and a joint Soviet-American commission was established. The commission met intermittently in Seoul but deadlocked over the issue of establishing a national government. In September 1947, with no solution in sight, the United States submitted the Korean question to the UN General Assembly. Initial hopes for a unified, independent Korea quickly evaporated as the politics of the Cold War and domestic opposition to the trusteeship plan resulted in the 1948 establishment of two separate nations with diametrically opposed political, economic, and social systems. Elections were held in the South under UN observation, and on August 15, 1948, the Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) was established in the South. Syngman Rhee, a nationalist leader, became the Republic's first president. On September 9, 1948, the North established the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (D.P.R.K.) headed by then-Premier Kim Il-sung, who had been cultivated and supported by the Soviet Union.
Korean War of 1950-53
Almost immediately after the establishment of the D.P.R.K., guerrilla warfare, border clashes, and naval battles erupted between the two Koreas. North Korean forces launched a massive surprise attack and invaded South Korea on June 25, 1950. The United Nations, in accordance with the terms of its charter, engaged in its first collective action and established the UN Command (UNC), to which 16 member nations sent troops and assistance. Next to South Korea, the United States contributed the largest contingent of forces to this international effort. The battle line fluctuated north and south, and after large numbers of Chinese "People's Volunteers" intervened to assist the North, the battle line stabilized north of Seoul near the 38th parallel.
Armistice negotiations began in July 1951, but hostilities continued until July 27, 1953. On that date, at Panmunjom, the military commanders of the North Korean People's Army, the Chinese People's Volunteers, and the UNC signed an armistice agreement. Neither the United States nor South Korea is a signatory to the armistice per se, although both adhere to it through the UNC. No comprehensive peace agreement has replaced the 1953 armistice pact.
North Korea's relationship with the South has determined much of its post-World War II history and still undergirds much of its foreign policy. North and South Korea have had a difficult and acrimonious relationship since the Korean War. In recent years, North Korea has pursued a mixed policy--seeking to develop economic relations with South Korea and to win the support of the South Korean public for greater North-South engagement while at the same time continuing to denounce the R.O.K.'s security relationship with the United States and maintaining a threatening conventional force posture on the DMZ and in adjacent waters.
The military demarcation line (MDL) of separation between the belligerent sides at the close of the Korean War divides North Korea from South Korea. A demilitarized zone (DMZ) extends for 2,000 meters (just over one mile) on either side of the MDL. Both the North and South Korean governments hold that the MDL is only a temporary administrative line, not a permanent border.
During the postwar period, both Korean governments have repeatedly affirmed their desire to reunify the Korean Peninsula, but until 1971 the two governments had no direct, official communications or other contact.
North Korea’s closest allies are China and Russia. It maintains limited relations with other nations, but has no official, diplomatic ties with South Korea, the United States, or Japan. All member nations of the European Union with the exception of Estonia and France maintain diplomatic relations with North Korea.
Reunification Efforts Since 1971
In August 1971, North and South Korea held talks through their respective Red Cross societies with the aim of reuniting the many Korean families separated following the division of Korea and the Korean War. In July 1972, the two sides agreed to work toward peaceful reunification and an end to the hostile atmosphere prevailing on the peninsula. Officials exchanged visits, and regular communications were established through a North-South coordinating committee and the Red Cross. These initial contacts broke down in 1973 following South Korean President Park Chung-hee's announcement that the South would seek separate entry into the United Nations, and after the kidnapping of South Korean opposition leader Kim Dae-jung--perceived as friendly to unified entry into the UN--by South Korean intelligence services. There was no other significant contact between North and South Korea until 1984.
Dialogue was renewed in September 1984, when South Korea accepted the North's offer to provide relief goods to victims of severe flooding in South Korea. Red Cross talks to address the plight of separated families resumed, as did talks on economic and trade issues and parliamentary-level discussions. However, the North then unilaterally suspended all talks in January 1986, arguing that the annual U.S.-R.O.K. "Team Spirit" military exercises were inconsistent with dialogue. There was a brief flurry of negotiations that year on co-hosting the 1988 Seoul Olympics, which ended in failure and was followed by the 1987 bombing of a South Korean commercial aircraft (Korean Airlines flight 858) by North Korean agents.
In July 1988, South Korean President Roh Tae-woo called for new efforts to promote North-South exchanges, family reunification, inter-Korean trade, and contact in international forums. Roh followed up this initiative in a UN General Assembly speech in which South Korea offered for the first time to discuss security matters with the North. Initial meetings that grew out of Roh's proposals started in September 1989. In September 1990, the first of eight prime minister-level meetings between North Korean and South Korean officials took place in Seoul. The prime ministerial talks resulted in two major agreements: the Agreement on Reconciliation, Nonaggression, Exchanges, and Cooperation (the "Basic Agreement") and the Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula (the "Joint Declaration").
The Basic Agreement, signed on December 13, 1991, called for reconciliation and nonaggression and established four joint commissions. These commissions--on North-South reconciliation, North-South military affairs, North-South economic exchanges and cooperation, and North-South social and cultural exchange--were to work out the specifics for implementing the Basic Agreement. Subcommittees to examine specific issues were created, and liaison offices were established in Panmunjom. However, in the fall of 1992 the process came to a halt because of rising tension over North Korea's nuclear program.
The Joint Declaration on denuclearization was initialed on December 31, 1991. It forbade both sides from testing, manufacturing, producing, receiving, possessing, storing, deploying, or using nuclear weapons and forbade the possession of nuclear reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities. A procedure for inter-Korean inspection was to be organized, and a North-South Joint Nuclear Control Commission (JNCC) was mandated to verify the denuclearization of the peninsula.
On January 30, 1992, the D.P.R.K. finally signed a nuclear safeguards agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as it had pledged to do in 1985 when it acceded to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). This safeguards agreement allowed IAEA inspections to begin in June 1992. In March 1992, the JNCC was established in accordance with the Joint Declaration, but subsequent meetings failed to reach agreement on the main issue of establishing a bilateral inspection regime.
As the 1990s progressed, concern over the North's attempts to develop a nuclear program became a major issue in North-South relations and between North Korea and the United States. The lack of progress on implementation of the Joint Declaration's provision for an inter-Korean nuclear inspection regime led to reinstatement of the U.S.-R.O.K. Team Spirit military exercises for 1993. The situation worsened rapidly when North Korea, in January 1993, refused IAEA access to two suspected nuclear waste sites and then announced in March 1993 its intent to withdraw from the NPT. During the next 2 years, the United States held direct talks with the D.P.R.K. that resulted in a series of agreements on nuclear matters, including the 1994 Agreed Framework (which broke down in 2002 when North Korea was discovered to be pursuing a uranium enrichment program for nuclear weapons--see below, Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula).
At his inauguration in February 1998, R.O.K. President Kim Dae-jung enunciated a new policy of engagement with the D.P.R.K., named "the Sunshine Policy." The policy had three fundamental principles: no tolerance for provocations from the North, no intention to absorb the North, and the separation of political cooperation from economic cooperation. Private sector overtures would be based on commercial and humanitarian considerations. The use of government resources would entail reciprocity. This policy set the stage for the first inter-Korean summit, held in Pyongyang June 13-15, 2000.
Following his inauguration in February 2003, R.O.K. President Roh Moo-hyun, continued his predecessor's policy of engagement with the North, although he abandoned the name "Sunshine Policy." The R.O.K. and D.P.R.K. held a second inter-Korean summit October 2-4, 2007 in Pyongyang. Following the inauguration of R.O.K. President Lee Myung-bak in February 2008, inter-Korean relations have declined as the D.P.R.K. criticized Lee's policy of seeking greater reciprocity in inter-Korean relations. In the fall of 2009, inter-Korean relations showed some signs of potential improvement following a reunion of separated families and several meetings to discuss joint economic projects and other issues. However, no enduring progress was made.
Inter-Korean relations further deteriorated following the D.P.R.K.’s sinking of the R.O.K. warship Cheonan on March 26, 2010, which killed 46 R.O.K. sailors. Although the D.P.R.K. has continued to deny responsibility for the attack, an objective and scientific investigation found overwhelming evidence that the warship was sunk by a North Korean torpedo fired from a North Korean submarine. On July 9, 2010, the UN Security Council unanimously adopted a Presidential Statement that condemned the attack on the Cheonan. On November 23, 2010, the D.P.R.K. launched an unprovoked attack against Yeonpyong Island, killing two R.O.K. soldiers and two civilians. The D.P.R.K.’s attack on Yeonpyong Island was a clear violation of the armistice agreement.
The United States supports engagement and North-South dialogue and cooperation. Major joint economic projects have included a tourism development in Mt. Kumgang, the re-establishment of road and rail links across the DMZ, and a joint North-South industrial park near the North Korean city of Kaesong (see further information below in the section on the Economy). Following the sinking of the Cheonan, the R.O.K. severed nearly all economic links with the D.P.R.K., with the exception of the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC).
DEFENSE AND MILITARY ISSUES
North Korea has one of the largest armies in the world. It has an estimated active duty military force of up to 1.2 million personnel, compared to about 680,000 in the South. Military spending is estimated at as much as a quarter of GNP, with up to 20% of men ages 17-54 in the regular armed forces. North Korean forces have a substantial numerical advantage over the South (around 2 to 1) in several key categories of offensive weapons--tanks, long-range artillery, and armored personnel carriers. The North has one of the world's largest special operations forces, designed for insertion behind the lines in wartime.
North Korea’s navy is primarily a coastal navy, with antiquated surface and submarine fleets. Its air force has twice the number of aircraft as the South, but, except for a few advanced fighters, the North's air force is obsolete.
The North deploys the bulk of its forces well forward, along the demilitarized zone (DMZ). Several North Korean military tunnels under the DMZ were discovered in the period from the 1970s to the present day. Over the course of several years, North Korea realigned its forces and moved some rear-echelon troops to hardened bunkers closer to the DMZ. Given the proximity of Seoul to the DMZ (some 25 miles), South Korean and U.S. forces are likely to have little warning of attack. The United States and the Republic of Korea continue to believe that the U.S. troop presence in the Republic of Korea remains an effective deterrent. North Korea's attempts to develop a nuclear weapons program have also been a source of international tension (see below, Reunification Efforts Since 1971; Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula).
In 1953, the Military Armistice Commission (MAC) was created to oversee and enforce the terms of the armistice. North Korea has sought to dismantle the MAC in a push for a new "peace mechanism" on the peninsula. In April 1994, it declared the MAC void and withdrew its representatives.
North Korea has a centralized government under the rigid control of the communist Korean Workers' Party (KWP), to which all government officials belong. A few minor political parties are allowed to exist in name only. Kim Il-sung ruled North Korea from 1948 until his death in July 1994 as Secretary General of the KWP and President of North Korea. The latter post was abolished following Kim Il-sung’s death and the title of the Eternal President of the Republic was established and given to Kim Il-sung.
Little is known about the actual lines of power and authority in the North Korean Government despite the formal structure set forth in its constitution. Following the death of Kim Il-sung, his son, Kim Jong-il, inherited supreme power. Kim Jong-il was named General Secretary of the KWP in October 1997, and in September 1998, the Supreme People's Assembly (SPA) reconfirmed Kim Jong-il as Chairman of the National Defense Commission (NDC) and declared that position as the "highest office of state." However, the President of the Presidium of the SPA, Kim Yong-nam, serves as the nominal head of state. North Korea's 1972 constitution was amended in late 1992, September 1998, and April 2009.
Following the death of Kim Jong-il in December 2011, his son Kim Jong-un became the supreme leader of North Korea. In December 2011, the Politburo of the KWP formally appointed Kim Jong-un as the Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army.
Three key entities control the government of the D.P.R.K. The cabinet, formerly known as the State Administration Council (SAC), administers the ministries and has a significant role in implementing policy. The cabinet is headed by the premier and is the dominant administrative and executive agency. The NDC is responsible for external and internal security, and under the leadership of Kim Jong-il, the NDC assumed a significant role in influencing policy. The Politburo of the Central People’s Committee is the top policymaking body of the KWP, which also plays a role as the dominant social institution in North Korea.
Officially, the D.P.R.K.’s legislature, the Supreme People’s Assembly, is the highest organ of state power. Its members are elected every 4 years. The SPA usually holds only two meetings annually, each lasting a few days. A standing committee elected by the SPA performs legislative functions when the Assembly is not in session. In reality, the SPA serves only to ratify decisions made by the ruling KWP.
Government Type: Communist state one-man dictatorship
Administratively, North Korea is divided into nine provinces and two provincial-level municipalities--Pyongyang and Nasun (also known as Najin-Sonbong). It also appears to be divided into nine military districts.
9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 2 municipalities (si, singular and plural)
1. Chagang-do (Chagang)
Independence Date: 15 August 1945 (from Japan)
Legal System: civil law system based on the Prussian model; system influenced by Japanese traditions and Communist legal theory. North Korea has not submitted an International Court of Justice (ICJ) jurisdiction declaration; and is non-party state to the International criminal court (ICCt) jurisdiction. North Korea's judiciary is "accountable" to the SPA and the president. The SPA's standing committee also appoints judges to the highest court for 4-year terms concurrent with those of the Assembly.
International Environmental Agreements
North Korea is party to international agrements on: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, and Ship Pollution. It has signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea.
Total Renewable Water Resources: 77.1 cu km (1999)
Freshwater Withdrawal: 9.02 cu km/yr (20% domestic, 25% industrial, 55% agricultural)
Per Capita Freshwater Withdrawal: 401 cu m/yr (2000)
Agricultural products: rice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, pulses; cattle, pigs, pork, eggs
Irrigated Land: 14,600 sq km (2008)
Natural Resources: coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower
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, shortages of spare parts, and poor maintenance.
Large-scale military spending draws off resources needed for investment and civilian consumption.
Industrial and power output have stagnated for years at a fraction of pre-1990 levels.
Frequent weather-related crop failures aggravated chronic food shortages caused by on-going systemic problems, including a lack of arable land, collective farming practices, poor soil quality, insufficient fertilization, 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.
In mid-2008, North Korea began receiving food aid under a US program to deliver 500,000 metric tons of food via the World Food Program and US nongovernmental organizations; but Pyongyang stopped accepting the aid in March 2009.
In December 2009, North Korea carried out a redenomination of its currency, capping the amount of North Korean won that could be exchanged for the new notes, and limiting the exchange to a one-week window. A concurrent crackdown on markets and foreign currency use yielded severe shortages and inflation, forcing Pyongyang to ease the restrictions by February 2010.
In response to the sinking of the South Korean destroyer Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyong Island, South Korea's government cut off most aid, trade, and bilateral cooperation activities, with the exception of operations at the Kaesong Industrial Complex.
The year 2012 will be the 100th anniversary of Kim Il-sung's birthday. The North Korean government often highlights its 2012 goal of becoming a "strong and prosperous" nation.
Attracting foreign investment, especially from neighboring China, will be a key factor for improving the overall standard of living. Nevertheless, firm political control remains the government's overriding concern, which likely will inhibit changes to North Korea's current economic system.
GDP: (Purchasing Power Parity): $40 billion (2011 est.)
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 2011 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- per capita (PPP): $1,800 (2011 est.)
GDP- composition by sector:
services: 31.5% (2010 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
Currency: North Korean won (KPW)