OFFICIAL NAME: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT: Civilian Dictatorship
AREA: 122,098 Sq Km (47,142 Sq Mi)
ESTIMATED 2000 POPULATION 25,242,000
LOCATION & GEOGRAPHY: North Korea is located on the northern
part of the Korean Peninsula in East Asia. It is bound by
China to the north, Russia to the northeast, South Korea
to the south, the Yellow Sea to the west. Around 80% of
the Korean Peninsula is covered by mountains with nearly
the whole of north central Korea dominated by the Machollyong,
Hamgyong, Pujol-Lyong, Nangnim, Myohyang and Chogu-Ryong
Mountain Ranges. The largest plains in North Korea are the
Pyongyang, Unjon, Anju, Chaeryong, Yonbaek, Hamhung, Yongchon,
Kilchu, Yonghung and Susong while most of the farmland and
population are located on the plains. The principal rivers
are the Yalu which flows to the Yellow Sea from Mt. Paektu
and the Taedong which is very important for internal commerce.
Major Cities (pop. est.); Pyongyang 2,355,000, Hamhung 701,000,
Chongjin 520,000, Nampo 370,000, Sunchon 356,000 (1987).
Land Use; forested 61%, pastures 0.5%, agricultural-cultivated
16.5%, other 22% (1993).
CLIMATE: North Korea has a continental climate with warm summers
and severe cold winters due to the cold winds from Siberia and Manchuria.
The severe winters cause rivers to freeze over for three to four months
and snowfall to lie for long periods of time. The wettest months are from
July to September when up to 85% of rainfall occurs while average annual
precipitation varies from 560 mm (22 inches) to 1,520 mm ( 60 inches) depending
on the region. Average temperature ranges in Pyongyang are from -8 degrees
Celsius (18 degrees Fahrenheit) in January to 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees
Fahrenheit) in August.
PEOPLE: The principal ethnic majority are the Koreans who are
believed to be descendants of the Tungusic, relatives of the Mongols, with
an admixture of Chinese. The Chinese account for around 50,000 and are
the principal non-Korean ethnic aliens.
DEMOGRAPHIC/VITAL STATISTICS: Density; 178 persons per sq km
(460 persons per sq mi) (1991). Urban-Rural; 59.8% urban, 40.2% rural (1990).
Sex Distribution; 49.4% male, 50.6% female (1990). Life Expectancy at Birth;
65.6 years male, 72.0 years female (1990). Age Breakdown; 29% under 15,
34% 15 to 29, 20% 30 to 44, 11% 45 to 59, 5% 60 to 74, 1% 75 and over (1990).
Birth Rate; 24.1 per 1,000 (1990). Death Rate; 5.6 per 1,000 (1990). Increase
Rate; 18.5 per 1,000 (1990). Infant Mortality Rate; 31.3 per 1,000 live
RELIGIONS: Due to the communist government's influences, religious
activities are now almost non-existent, although traditionally Buddhism,
Confucianism and Shamanism were the national religions.
LANGUAGES: The official language is Korean or Choson Muntcha
which is a member of the Altaic family of languages and spoken by the entire
population. English is the principal secondary language and is taught in
all secondary schools.
EDUCATION: Aged 25 or over and having attained: N/A. Literacy;
literate population aged 15 or over 90.0% (1979).
MODERN HISTORY - WWII TO 1993: Following Japan's surrender during
World War II, the Soviet troops occupied the Korean Peninsula north of
the 38th parallel while the US troops controlled the south. In 1948 the
division of Korea was formalized and the North and South Korea's declared,
however, both factions claimed sovereignty over the entire peninsula and
after the US and Soviet troops were withdrawn, armed clashes escalated.
On June 25, 1950 North Korean troops launched a large scale offensive invading
South Korea and thus began the Korean War. On July 27, 1953 a ceasefire
was signed which brought an end to the war, following which the communist
Korean Worker's Party (KWP) embarked on an economic reconstruction program
and the consolidation of its political position. In Dec. 1955 Kim Il Sung
established his personal style of Marxist-Leninist ideologies known as
Juche or Juchism and by 1958 Kim had become the absolute leader of the
KWP. The KWP in accordance to Juche principals began to collectivize agricultural
farms and develop heavy industry. In 1971 the KWP implemented a six year
plan which involved the importation of modern technologies from the West
and Japan. In 1978 a seven year plan was adopted and the third plan was
adopted in 1987. In 1985 North Korea signed a Nuclear Non-Proliferation
Treaty but refused to allow inspections of its facilities unless the US
removed all nuclear weapons from South Korea. In May 1990 Kim was re-elected
President of the Supreme People's Assembly while his son, Kim Jong Il was
elected first vice-chairman of a new National Defense Commission. In Sept.
1990 the first ever talks between the Prime Ministers of North and South
Korea took place which was followed by another in October and in December
a third round of talks involving Pres. Kim took place. In Dec. 1990 North
Korea and Russia signed a trade and co-operation agreement. In Jan. 1991
the Soviet Union demanded that North Korea begin to pay for its goods in
hard currency which only further exacerbated the worsening economic conditions
including food and power shortages. In July 1991 North Korea applied for
its own seat in the UN and in October the US announced that is was removing
nuclear weapons from South Korea in an attempt to force North Korea to
open its facilities to international inspections as fears escalated over
its nuclear program. Also in Oct. 1991 President Kim visited China, their
last major ally, and requested that they not recognize South Korea and
to increase aid to assist their economic situation. In Dec 1991 Kim Jong
Il was appointed to the position of supreme military commander. In Dec.
1991 the Premiers of both North Korea, Yon Hyong Muk and South Korea, Chung
Won Shik signed a nonaggression and reconciliation treaty that included
a declaration for a nonnuclear peninsula. However, the implementation of
the accords ground to a halt of the nuclear issue with the US and South
Korea believing that North Korea was developing nuclear weapons at Yongbyon,
90km (56 mi) north of the capital. The US and South Korea insisted that
they open the plant to joint inspections, although North Korea refused
to unless the US military bases were also open for inspection. In Jan.
1992 North Korea signed a nuclear safeguards accord with the International
Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). On April 9, 1992 the legislature ratified
the nonaggression and reconciliation treaty and on May 4, 1992 the North
Korean Atomic Energy Ministry presented a document to the IAEA describing
four nuclear reactors as research reactors not used for the development
of nuclear weapons, and agreed they would be opened to international inspectors.
Also in May 1992 IAEA inspectors visited the Yongbyon plant and reported
it was a large-scale plutonium reprocessing plant about 80% complete, while
the government insisted that it was for research only. In Dec. 1992 a Russian
report confirmed that 36 nuclear weapons specialists hired by the North
Koreans had been detained by troops just prior to the departure of a flight
to Pyongyang. On Dec. 11, 1992 Pres. Kim Il Sung dismissed Prime Minister
Yon and replaced him with Kang Song San. On Dec. 29, 1992 China announced
that North Korea would have to use hard-currency for all trade instead
of the traditional barter. On Mar. 12, 1993 North Korea announced it would
be withdrawing from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty from June 12,
1993 following the IAEA insistence to inspect further nuclear facilities.
North Korea refused to allow the inspections claiming that the IAEA demand
was a violation of its sovereignty. Also in Mar. 1993 South Korea and the
US began their annual "Team Spirit" military exercises that resulted
in the government placing its forces into war alert and branded the maneuvers
a rehearsal for nuclear war. In retaliation the South Korean government
imposed economic sanctions on North Korea. On Apr. 9, 1993 the government
appointed the President's son Kim Jong Il as chairman of the National Defense
Commission and in May 1993 North Korea successfully tested an intermediate-range
missile in the Sea of Japan that further increased tensions in the region.
On June 11, 1993 following a series of meetings between US and North Korean
representatives, the government agreed to suspend its withdrawal from the
Non-nuclear Proliferation Treaty, although no further progress was made
by the IAEA over the inspection of the North Korean nuclear sites.
CURRENCY: The official currency is the Won (W) divided into 100
Chon or Jun.
ECONOMY: Gross National Product; USD $22,000,000,000 (1992).
Public Debt; USD $8,000,000,000 (1992). Imports; USD $1,900,000,000 (1992).
Exports; USD $1,300,000,000 (1992). Tourism Receipts; N/A. Balance of Trade;
USD -$600,000,000 (1992). Economically Active Population; 12,486,000 or
53.2% of total population (1994). Unemployed; N/A.
MAIN TRADING PARTNERS: Its main trading partners are the former
USSR, former European communist countries, Japan, Germany, France and other
MAIN PRIMARY PRODUCTS: Barley, Beans, Cattle, Coal, Copper, Fish,
Grain, Gold, Iron Ore, Lead, Pigs, Poultry, Rice, Tobacco, Timber, Tungsten,
MAJOR INDUSTRIES: Agriculture, Automobiles, Chemicals, Electrical
and Electronic Goods, Footwear, Iron and Steel, Industrial Machinery, Petrochemicals,
Ship Building, Textiles and Clothing.
MAIN EXPORTS: Clothing and Textiles, Electronic Equipment, Fish,
Footwear, Food Stuffs, Iron and Steel, Ships.
TRANSPORT: Railroads; route length 8,533 km (5,302 mi) (1989),
passenger-km N/A., cargo ton-km N/A. Roads; length 23,000 km (14,292 mi)
(1988). Vehicles; cars 248,000 (1988), trucks and buses N/A. Merchant Marine;
vessels 89 (1990), deadweight tonnage 656,036 (1990). Air Transport; passenger-km
84,000,000 (52,195,000 passenger-mi) (1980), cargo ton-km 2,000,000 (1,370,000
short ton-mi) (1980).
COMMUNICATIONS: Daily Newspapers; total of 11 with a total circulation
of 5,000,000 (1992). Radio; receivers 2,500,000 (1994). Television; receivers
2,000,000 (1994). Telephones; units 1,089,300 (1994).
MILITARY: 1,128,000 (1995) total active duty personnel with 88.6%
army, 4.1% navy and 7.3% air force while military expenditure accounts
for 26.6% (1994) of the Gross National Product (GNP).
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