[Country map of Korea, North]

Korea, North


Location: Eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and Russia

Map references: Asia

total area: 120,540 sq km
land area: 120,410 sq km
comparative area: slightly smaller than Mississippi

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

Coastline: 2,495 km

Maritime claims:
territorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
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

International disputes: short section of boundary with China is indefinite; Demarcation Line with South Korea

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

Natural resources: coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower

Land use:
arable land: 18%
permanent crops: 1%
meadows and pastures: 0%
forest and woodland: 74%
other: 7%

Irrigated land: 14,000 sq km (1989)

current issues: localized air pollution attributable to inadequate industrial controls; water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water
natural hazards: late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall
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

Note: strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated, nearly inaccessible, and sparsely populated


Population: 23,486,550 (July 1995 est.)

Age structure:
0-14 years: 30% (female 3,402,672; male 3,540,313)
15-64 years: 66% (female 7,840,465; male 7,741,155)
65 years and over: 4% (female 622,250; male 339,695) (July 1995 est.)

Population growth rate: 1.78% (1995 est.)

Birth rate: 23.31 births/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Death rate: 5.47 deaths/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Net migration rate: 0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (1995 est.)

Infant mortality rate: 26.8 deaths/1,000 live births (1995 est.)

Life expectancy at birth:
total population: 70.05 years
male: 66.96 years
female: 73.29 years (1995 est.)

Total fertility rate: 2.34 children born/woman (1995 est.)

noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean

Ethnic divisions: racially homogeneous

Religions: Buddhism and Confucianism, some Christianity and syncretic Chondogyo
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom

Languages: Korean

Literacy: age 15 and over can read and write Korean (1990 est.)
total population: 99%
male: 99%
female: 99%

Labor force: 9.615 million
by occupation: agricultural 36%, nonagricultural 64%
note: shortage of skilled and unskilled labor (mid-1987 est.)


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

Digraph: KN

Type: Communist state; Stalinist dictatorship

Capital: P'yongyang

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 3 special cities* (jikhalsi, 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
note: 15 August 1945, date of independence from the Japanese and celebrated in North Korea as National Liberation Day

National holiday: DPRK Foundation Day, 9 September (1948)

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

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, is the son of and designated successor to former President KIM Il-song (who died 8 July 1994); formal succession has not yet taken place (January 1995); election last held 24 May 1990 (next to be held by NA); results - President KIM Il-song was reelected without opposition
head of government: Premier KANG Song-san (since December 1992)
cabinet: State Administration Council; appointed by the Supreme People's Assembly

Legislative branch: unicameral
Supreme People's Assembly (Ch'oego Inmin Hoeui): elections last held on 7-9 April 1990 (next to be held NA); results - percent of vote by party NA; seats - (687 total) the KWP approves a single list of candidates who are elected without opposition; minor parties hold a few seats

Judicial branch: Central Court

Political parties and leaders: major party - Korean Workers' Party (KWP), KIM Chong-il, secretary, Central Committee; Korean Social Democratic Party, KIM Pyong-sik, chairman; Chondoist Chongu Party, YU Mi-yong, chairwoman


Diplomatic representation in US: none

US diplomatic representation: none

Flag: 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


Overview: More than 90% of this command economy is socialized; agricultural land is collectivized; and state-owned industry produces 95% of manufactured goods. State control of economic affairs is unusually tight even for a Communist country because of the small size and homogeneity of the society and the strict rule of KIM Il-song in the past and now his son, KIM Chong-il. Economic growth during the period 1984-88 averaged 2%-3%, but output declined by 3%-5% annually during 1989-92 because of systemic problems and disruptions in socialist-style economic relations with the former USSR and China. In 1992, output dropped sharply, by perhaps 7%-9%, as the economy felt the cumulative effect of the reduction in outside support. The leadership insisted on maintaining its high level of military outlays from a shrinking economic pie. Moreover, a serious drawdown in inventories and critical shortages in the energy sector have led to increasing interruptions in industrial production. Abundant mineral resources and hydropower have formed the basis of industrial development since World War II. Output of the extractive industries includes coal, iron ore, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals. Manufacturing is centered on heavy industry, including military industry, with light industry lagging far behind. Despite the use of improved seed varieties, expansion of irrigation, and the heavy use of fertilizers, North Korea has not yet become self-sufficient in food production. Indeed, a shortage of arable lands, several years of poor harvests, and a cumbersome distribution system have resulted in chronic food shortages. The collapse of Communism in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in 1989-91 has disrupted important technological links. North Korea remains far behind South Korea in economic development and living standards. GDP is stagnant.

National product: GDP - purchasing power parity - $21.3 billion (1994 est.)

National product real growth rate: 0% (1994 est.)

National product per capita: $920 (1994 est.)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%

Unemployment rate: NA%

revenues: $19.3 billion
expenditures: $19.3 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1992 est.)

Exports: $1.02 billion (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: minerals, metallurgical products, agricultural and fishery products, manufactures (including armaments)
partners: China, Japan, Russia, South Korea, Germany, Hong Kong

Imports: $1.64 billion (f.o.b., 1993 est.)
commodities: petroleum, grain, coking coal, machinery and equipment, consumer goods
partners: China, Russia, Japan, Hong Kong, Germany, Singapore

External debt: $8 billion (1992 est.)

Industrial production: growth rate -7% to -9% (1992 est.)

capacity: 9,500,000 kW
production: 50 billion kWh
consumption per capita: 2,053 kWh (1993)

Industries: machine building, military products, electric power, chemicals, mining, metallurgy, textiles, food processing

Agriculture: accounts for about 25% of GDP and 36% of work force; principal crops - rice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, pulses; livestock and livestock products - cattle, hogs, pork, eggs; not self-sufficient in grain

Economic aid:
recipient: Communist countries, $1.4 billion a year in the 1980s, but very little now

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

Exchange rates: 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)

Fiscal year: calendar year


total: 4,915 km
standard gauge: 4,250 km 1.435-m gauge (3,397 km electrified; 159 km double track)
narrow gauge: 665 km 0.762-m gauge (1989)

total: 30,000 km
paved: 1,861 km
unpaved: gravel, crushed stone, earth 28,139 km (1992)

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

Pipelines: crude oil 37 km

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

Merchant marine:
total: 87 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling 727,631 GRT/1,149,291 DWT
ships by type: bulk 9, cargo 70, combination bulk 1, oil tanker 3, passenger 2, passenger-cargo 1, short-sea passenger 1
note: North Korea owns an additional 4 ships (1,000 GRT or over) totaling approximately 32,405 DWT that operate under Honduran registry

total: 49
with paved runways over 3,047 m: 2
with paved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 15
with paved runways 1,524 to 2,437 m: 2
with paved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 1
with paved runways under 914 m: 2
with unpaved runways 2,438 to 3,047 m: 4
with unpaved runways 1,524 to 2,438 m: 5
with unpaved runways 914 to 1,523 m: 12
with unpaved runways under 914 m: 6


Telephone system: telephone system is believed to be available only to government officials and not to private individuals
local: NA
intercity: NA
international: 1 earth station near P'yongyang, uses an Indian Ocean INTELSAT satellite; other international connections through Moscow and Beijing

broadcast stations: AM 18, FM 0, shortwave 0
radios: 3.5 million

broadcast stations: 11
televisions: 350,000 (1989)

Defense Forces

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

Manpower availability: males age 15-49 6,753,400; males fit for military service 4,094,854; males reach military age (18) annually 193,480 (1995 est.)

Defense expenditures: exchange rate conversion - about $5 billion, 20%-25% of GDP (1991 est.); note - the officially announced but suspect figure is $2.2 billion (1994), about 12% of total spending