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  Korea, North  
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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January 2002
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2002.

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

Map of Korea, North

Legend: Definition Definition Field Listing Field Listing
   Introduction    Korea, North
Definition Field Listing
Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Communist domination and the southern portion becoming Western oriented. KIM Chong-il has ruled North Korea since his father and the country's founder, president KIM Il-song, 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 about 1 million. North Korea's long-range missile development and research into nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons and massive conventional armed forces are of major concern to the international community. In December 2002, North Korea repudiated a 1994 agreement that shut down its nuclear reactors and expelled UN monitors, further raising fears it would produce nuclear weapons.
   Geography    Korea, North
Definition Field Listing
Eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea
Geographic coordinates:
Definition Field Listing
40 00 N, 127 00 E
Map references:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
total: 120,540 sq km
water: 130 sq km
land: 120,410 sq km
Area - comparative:
Definition Field Listing
slightly smaller than Mississippi
Land boundaries:
Definition Field Listing
total: 1,673 km
border countries: China 1,416 km, South Korea 238 km, Russia 19 km
Definition Field Listing
2,495 km
Maritime claims:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer
Definition Field Listing
mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east
Elevation extremes:
Definition Field Listing
lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Paektu-san 2,744 m
Natural resources:
Definition Field Listing
coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower
Land use:
Definition Field Listing
arable land: 14.12%
permanent crops: 2.49%
other: 83.39% (1998 est.)
Irrigated land:
Definition Field Listing
14,600 sq km (1998 est.)
Natural hazards:
Definition Field Listing
late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall
Environment - current issues:
Definition Field Listing
water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water; water-borne disease; deforestation; soil erosion and degradation
Environment - international agreements:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated and sparsely populated
   People    Korea, North
Definition Field Listing
22,224,195 (July 2002 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 25.4% (male 2,888,478; female 2,747,133)
15-64 years: 67.4% (male 7,380,183; female 7,612,275)
65 years and over: 7.2% (male 527,256; female 1,068,870) (2002 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
1.1% (2002 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing
17.95 births/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing
6.96 deaths/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2002 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.49 male(s)/female
total population: 0.95 male(s)/female (2002 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing
22.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2002 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing
total population: 71.3 years
female: 74.44 years (2002 est.)
male: 68.31 years
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing
2.22 children born/woman (2002 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
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Definition Field Listing
noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groups:
Definition Field Listing
racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
definition: age 15 and over can read and write Korean
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99% (1990 est.)
   Government    Korea, North
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
conventional long form: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
conventional short form: North Korea
local short form: none
local long form: Choson-minjujuui-inmin-konghwaguk
note: the North Koreans generally use the term "Choson" to refer to their country
abbreviation: DPRK
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
authoritarian socialist; one-man dictatorship
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 4 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), Najin Sonbong-si*, Namp'o-si* (Namp'o City), P'yongan-bukto (North P'yongan Province), P'yongan-namdo (South P'yongan Province), P'yongyang-si* (Pyongyang City), Yanggang-do (Yanggang Province)
Definition Field Listing
15 August 1945 (from Japan)
National holiday:
Definition Field Listing
Founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), 9 September (1948)
Definition Field Listing
adopted 1948, completely revised 27 December 1972, revised again in April 1992 and September 1998
Legal system:
Definition Field Listing
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
Definition Field Listing
17 years of age; universal
Executive branch:
Definition Field Listing
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 Yong-nam was named President of the Supreme People's Assembly Presidium and given the responsibility of representing the state and receiving diplomatic credentials
elections: premier elected by the Supreme People's Assembly; election last held NA September 1998 (next to be held NA)
election results: HONG Song-nam elected premier; percent of Supreme People's Assembly vote - NA%
cabinet: Cabinet (Naegak), members, except for the Minister of People's Armed Forces, are appointed by the Supreme People's Assembly
head of government: Premier HONG Song-nam (since 5 September 1998); Vice Premiers CHO Ch'ang-tok (since NA), KWAK Pom-ki (since NA), Sin IL-nam (since NA April 2002)
Legislative branch:
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Central Court (judges are elected by the Supreme People's Assembly)
Political parties and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
Chondoist Chongu Party [YU Mi-yong, chairwoman]; Korean Social Democratic Party [KIM Yong-tae, chairman]; major party - Korean Workers' Party or KWP [KIM Chong-il, General Secretary]
Political pressure groups and leaders:
Definition Field Listing
International organization participation:
Definition Field Listing
Diplomatic representation in the US:
Definition Field Listing
none; note - North Korea has a Permanent Mission to the UN in New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
none (Swedish Embassy in P'yongyang represents the US as consular protecting power)
Flag description:
Definition Field Listing
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    Korea, North
Economy - overview:
Definition Field Listing
North Korea, one of the world's most centrally planned and isolated economies, faces desperate economic conditions. Industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment and spare parts shortages. Industrial and power output have declined in parallel. Despite a good harvest in 2001, the nation faces its ninth year of food shortages because of a lack of arable land; collective farming; weather-related problems, including major drought in 2000; and chronic shortages of fertilizer and fuel. Massive international food aid deliveries have allowed the regime to escape mass starvation since 1995-96, but the population remains vulnerable to prolonged malnutrition and deteriorating living conditions. Large-scale military spending eats up resources needed for investment and civilian consumption. Recently, the regime has placed emphasis on earning hard currency, developing information technology, addressing power shortages, and attracting foreign aid, but in no way at the expense of relinquishing central control over key national assets or undergoing widespread market-oriented reforms. In 2002, heightened political tensions with key donor countries and general donor fatigue have held down the flow of desperately needed food aid and threaten fuel aid as well.
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $22 billion (2002 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
1% (2002 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing
purchasing power parity - $1,000 (2002 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 30%
industry: 32%
services: 37% (2000 est.)
Population below poverty line:
Definition Field Listing
Household income or consumption by percentage share:
Definition Field Listing
lowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
Inflation rate (consumer prices):
Definition Field Listing
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing
9.6 million
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agricultural 36%, nonagricultural 64%
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing
Definition Field Listing
revenues: $NA
expenditures: $NA, including capital expenditures of $NA
Definition Field Listing
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:
Definition Field Listing
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing
33.4 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - production by source:
Definition Field Listing
fossil fuel: 33%
hydro: 67%
other: 0% (2000)
nuclear: 0%
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing
31.062 billion kWh (2000)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2000)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2000)
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
rice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, pulses; cattle, pigs, pork, eggs
Definition Field Listing
$826 million f.o.b. (2001 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
minerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments); textiles and fishery products
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
Japan 36.3%, South Korea 21.5%, China 5.2% (2000)
Definition Field Listing
$1.874 billion c.i.f. (2001 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment; textiles, grain
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
China 26.7%, South Korea 16.2%, Japan 12.3% (2000)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing
$12 billion (1996 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$NA; note - nearly $300 million in food aid alone from US, South Korea, Japan, and EU in 2001 plus much additional aid from the UN and non-governmental organizations
Definition Field Listing
North Korean won (KPW)
Currency code:
Definition Field Listing
Exchange rates:
Definition Field Listing
official: North Korean won per US dollar - 2.15 (December 2001), 2.15 (May 1994), 2.13 (May 1992), 2.14 (September 1991), 2.1 (January 1990); market: North Korean won per US dollar - 200 (December 2001)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Korea, North
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing
1.1 million (1997)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: satellite earth stations - 1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean) and 1 Russian (Indian Ocean region); other international connections through Moscow and Beijing
Radio broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
AM 16, FM 14, shortwave 12 (1999)
Definition Field Listing
3.36 million (1997)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
38 (1999)
Definition Field Listing
1.2 million (1997)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet Service Providers (ISPs):
Definition Field Listing
1 (2000)
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing
   Transportation    Korea, North
Definition Field Listing
total: 5,000 km
standard gauge: 4,095 km 1.435-m gauge (3,500 km electrified; 159 km double-tracked)
narrow gauge: 665 km 0.762-m gauge
dual gauge: 240 km 1.435-m and 1.600-m gauges (three rails provide two gauges) (1996)
Definition Field Listing
total: 31,200 km
paved: 1,997 km
unpaved: 29,203 km (1996)
Definition Field Listing
2,253 km
note: mostly navigable by small craft only
Definition Field Listing
crude oil 37 km; petroleum product 180 km
Ports and harbors:
Definition Field Listing
Ch'ongjin, Haeju, Hungnam (Hamhung), Kimch'aek, Kosong, Najin, Namp'o, Sinuiju, Songnim, Sonbong (formerly Unggi), Ungsang, Wonsan
Merchant marine:
Definition Field Listing
total: 122 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 738,886 GRT/1,037,506 DWT
note: includes some foreign-owned ships registered here as a flag of convenience: Denmark 1, Greece 2, Pakistan 1, Singapore 1 (2002 est.)
ships by type: bulk 4, cargo 102, combination bulk 1, multi-functional large-load carrier 1, passenger 2, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 6, refrigerated cargo 3, short-sea passenger 2
Definition Field Listing
87 (2001)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 39
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 26
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 1 (2002)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 48
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 24
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 8 (2002)
   Military    Korea, North
Military branches:
Definition Field Listing
Korean People's Army (includes Army, Navy, Air Force), Civil Security Forces
Military manpower - military age:
Definition Field Listing
18 years of age (2002 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 6,032,376 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 3,619,535 (2002 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 179,136 (2002 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing
$5,124.1 million (FY01)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing
31.3% (FY01)
   Transnational Issues    Korea, North
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
33-km section of boundary with China in the Paektu-san (mountain) area is indefinite; Demarcation Line with South Korea

This page was last updated on 19 March 2003

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