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  Transnational Issues

In general, information available as of 1 January, 2004
was used in the preparation of The World Factbook 2004.

This page was last updated on 30 November, 2004

Map of Korea, North

Legend: DefinitionDefinition Field ListingField Listing Rank OrderRank Order
   Introduction    Korea, North
Definition Field Listing
Japan occupied Korea in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War; five years later it formally annexed the entire peninsula. 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 Rank Order
total: 120,540 sq km
land: 120,410 sq km
water: 130 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: 20.76%
permanent crops: 2.49%
other: 76.75% (2001)
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: 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 Rank Order
22,697,553 (July 2004 est.)
Age structure:
Definition Field Listing
0-14 years: 24.6% (male 2,836,991; female 2,755,127)
15-64 years: 67.8% (male 7,575,590; female 7,812,878)
65 years and over: 7.6% (male 583,463; female 1,133,504) (2004 est.)
Median age:
Definition Field Listing
total: 31.4 years
male: 30.2 years
female: 32.6 years (2004 est.)
Population growth rate:
Definition Field Listing
0.98% (2004 est.)
Birth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
16.77 births/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Death rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
6.99 deaths/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Net migration rate:
Definition Field Listing
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2004 est.)
Sex ratio:
Definition Field Listing
at birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
under 15 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-64 years: 0.97 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.52 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2004 est.)
Infant mortality rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 24.84 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 26.59 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 23 deaths/1,000 live births (2004 est.)
Life expectancy at birth:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total population: 71.08 years
male: 68.38 years
female: 73.92 years (2004 est.)
Total fertility rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
2.2 children born/woman (2004 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
HIV/AIDS - deaths:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
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
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99%
   Government    Korea, North
Country name:
Definition Field Listing
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
Government type:
Definition Field Listing
Communist state one-man dictatorship
Definition Field Listing
Administrative divisions:
Definition Field Listing
9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 4 municipalities (si, singular and plural)
: provinces: Chagang-do (Chagang Province), Hamgyong-bukto (North Hamgyong Province), Hamgyong-namdo (South Hamgyong Province), Hwanghae-bukto (North Hwanghae Province), Hwanghae-namdo (South Hwanghae Province), Kangwon-do (Kangwon Province), P'yongan-bukto (North P'yongan Province), P'yongan-namdo (South P'yongan Province), Yanggang-do (Yanggang Province)
: municipalites: Kaesong-si (Kaesong City), Najin Sonbong-si, Namp'o-si (Namp'o City), P'yongyang-si (Pyongyang City)
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 Jong Il (since July 1994); note - on 3 September 2003, KIM Jong Il was reelected Chairman of the National Defense Commission, a position accorded the nation's "highest administrative authority"; KIM Yong Nam was reelected President of the Supreme People's Assembly Presidium and given the responsibility of representing the state and receiving diplomatic credentials
head of government: Premier PAK Pong Ju (since 3 September 2003); Vice Premiers KWAK Pom Gi (since 5 September 1998), JON Sung Hun (since 3 September 2003), RO Tu Chol (since 3 September 2003)
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 in September 2003 (next to be held in September 2008)
election results: PAK Pong Ju elected premier; percent of Supreme People's Assembly vote - NA%
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 3 August 2003 (next to be held in August 2008)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; the KWP approves a list of candidates who are elected without opposition; some seats are held by minor parties
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 [RYU Mi Yong, chairwoman]; Social Democratic Party [KIM Yong Dae, chairman]; major party - Korean Workers' Party or KWP [KIM Jong 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; North Korea has a Permanent Mission to the UN in New York
Diplomatic representation from the US:
Definition Field Listing
none (Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang 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. The nation has suffered its tenth year of food shortages because of a lack of arable land, collective farming, weather-related problems, 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 the victim of prolonged malnutrition and deteriorating living conditions. Large-scale military spending eats up resources needed for investment and civilian consumption. In 2003, heightened political tensions with key donor countries and general donor fatigue threatened the flow of desperately needed food aid and fuel aid as well. Black market prices continued to rise following the increase in official prices and wages in the summer of 2002, leaving some vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and unemployed, less able to buy goods. The regime, however, relaxed restrictions on farmers' market activities in spring 2003, leading to an expansion of market activity.
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $29.58 billion (2004 est.)
GDP - real growth rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1% (2004 est.)
GDP - per capita:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
purchasing power parity - $1,300 (2004 est.)
GDP - composition by sector:
Definition Field Listing
agriculture: 30.2%
industry: 33.8%
services: 36% (2002 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 Rank Order
NA (2003 est.)
Labor force:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
9.6 million
Labor force - by occupation:
Definition Field Listing
agricultural 36%, nonagricultural 64%
Unemployment rate:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA (2003)
Definition Field Listing
revenues: NA
expenditures: NA, including capital expenditures of NA
Agriculture - products:
Definition Field Listing
rice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, pulses; cattle, pigs, pork, eggs
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 Rank Order
Electricity - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
30.01 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
27.91 billion kWh (2001)
Electricity - exports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2001)
Electricity - imports:
Definition Field Listing
0 kWh (2001)
Oil - production:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
0 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - consumption:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
85,000 bbl/day (2001 est.)
Oil - exports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA (2001)
Oil - imports:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
NA (2001)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$1.044 billion f.o.b. (2002 est.)
Exports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
minerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments); textiles and fishery products
Exports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
South Korea 28.5%, China 28.4%, Japan 24.7% (2002)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$2.042 billion c.i.f. (2002 est.)
Imports - commodities:
Definition Field Listing
petroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment; textiles, grain
Imports - partners:
Definition Field Listing
China 39.7%, Thailand 14.6%, Japan 11.2%, Germany 7.6%, South Korea 6.2% (2002)
Debt - external:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$12 billion (1996 est.)
Economic aid - recipient:
Definition Field Listing
$NA; note - over $133 million in food aid through the World Food Program in 2003 plus additional aid from bilateral donors 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 - 150 (December 2002), 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 - 300-600 (December 2002), 200 (December 2001)
Fiscal year:
Definition Field Listing
calendar year
   Communications    Korea, North
Telephones - main lines in use:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
1.1 million (2001)
Telephones - mobile cellular:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
Telephone system:
Definition Field Listing
general assessment: NA
domestic: NA
international: country code - 850; 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)
Television broadcast stations:
Definition Field Listing
38 (1999)
Internet country code:
Definition Field Listing
Internet users:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
   Transportation    Korea, North
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 5,214 km
standard gauge: 5,214 km 1.435-m gauge (3,500 km electrified) (2003)
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
total: 31,200 km
paved: 1,997 km
unpaved: 29,203 km (1999 est.)
Definition Field Listing
2,250 km
note: most navigable only by small craft (2004)
Definition Field Listing
oil 136 km (2003)
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: 203 ships (1,000 GRT or over) 921,577 GRT/1,339,929 DWT
by type: bulk 6, cargo 166, combination bulk 2, container 3, liquefied gas 1, livestock carrier 3, multi-functional large load carrier 1, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 11, refrigerated cargo 6, roll on/roll off 2, short-sea/passenger 1
foreign-owned: Albania 1, Belize 1, Bolivia 1, Cambodia 3, Cyprus 1, Egypt 3, Germany 1, Greece 4, Italy 1, Lebanon 2, Marshall Islands 1, Pakistan 1, Portugal 1, Romania 8, Saint Kitts and Nevis 1, Syria 9, Tanzania 1, Tunisia 1, Turkey 5, Ukraine 2, United States 3
registered in other countries: 4 (2003 est.)
Definition Field Listing
78 (2003 est.)
Airports - with paved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 35
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 23
1,524 to 2,437 m: 5
914 to 1,523 m: 1
under 914 m: 3 (2003 est.)
Airports - with unpaved runways:
Definition Field Listing
total: 43
2,438 to 3,047 m: 1
1,524 to 2,437 m: 20
914 to 1,523 m: 14
under 914 m: 8 (2003 est.)
Definition Field Listing
19 (2003 est.)
   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
17 years of age (2004 est.)
Military manpower - availability:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 6,181,038 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - fit for military service:
Definition Field Listing
males age 15-49: 3,694,855 (2004 est.)
Military manpower - reaching military age annually:
Definition Field Listing
males: 189,014 (2004 est.)
Military expenditures - dollar figure:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
$5,217.4 million (FY02)
Military expenditures - percent of GDP:
Definition Field Listing Rank Order
22.9% (2003)
   Transnational Issues    Korea, North
Disputes - international:
Definition Field Listing
with China, certain islands in Yalu and Tumen rivers are in uncontested dispute; a section of boundary around Paektu-san (mountain) is indefinite; China has been attempting to stop mass illegal migration of North Koreans escaping famine, economic privation, and oppression into northern China; Military Demarcation Line within the 4-km wide Demilitarized Zone has separated North from South Korea since 1953; periodic maritime disputes with South Korea
Refugees and internally displaced persons:
Definition Field Listing
IDPs: 50,000-250,000 (government repression and famine) (2004)
Illicit drugs:
Definition Field Listing
for years from the 1970's into the 1990's, citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea (DPRK), many of them diplomatic employees of the government, were apprehended abroad while trafficking in narcotics; in recent years, police investigations in Taiwan and Japan have linked North Korea to large illicit shipments of heroin and methamphetamine, with the attempt by the North Korean merchant ship Pong Su to deliver 125 kg of heroin to Australia in April 2003 the most recent example of Pyongyang's involvement in the drug trade; all indications point to North Korea emerging as an important regional source of illicit drugs targeting markets in Japan, Taiwan, the Russian Far East, and China

This page was last updated on 30 November, 2004

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