Form of Government: Socialist republic
Area: 122 762 sq km
Population: 25 367 900 inhab. (estimate 2020)
Density: 206.64 inhab./sq km
Coordinates: lat. 43° - 38° N; long. 124° - 131° E
Capital: Pyeongyang (capital) 3 255 288 inhab. (2008);
Currency: North Korean won (100 chun)
Eternal President: Kim II-sung, dead; Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un, since 28 December 2011
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly: Choe Ryong-hae, since 11 April 2019; Premier Kim Tok-hun, since 13 August 2020
Internet: www.korea-dpr.com (Official Webpage)
Member of UN
International license plate code DVRK
International dialling code 00850
Travel vaccinations requirement yellow fever (required only if traveling from a country with risk of transmission); malaria prophylaxis (low risk confined to some areas for which it is recommended or advised)
Electricity (Voltage) 220
Driving side rigth
Internet code .kp
DST not applied
Annual average temperature (°C) Pyeongyang 9.6
Average temperature in January/July (°C) Pyeongyang -8/24.5
Daily sunshine hours in June/December (average) Pyeongyang 9/6
Annual average precipitation (mm) Pyeongyang 916
Days of rainfall (annual average) Pyeongyang 75
Politics and current affairs
The considerable restrictions on trade with China due to strict measures to contain the COVID-19 pandemic exacerbated the already precarious economic situation, resulting in a shortage of staple goods.
North Korea is bordered by China and Russia to the north, and South Korea to the south. The Sea of Japan (East Sea) lies off its east coast and the Yellow Sea off its west coast. Most of the country is mountainous.
The climate is continental with a summer rainy season.
Formerly (from 1910) under Japanese sovereignty, Korea was occupied in 1945 by Soviet and American troops, the former north of the 38th parallel, the latter south of it.
In 1948 two separate states were formed, each one claiming territorial rights over the whole peninsula. Very soon war broke out between the two countries (25 June 1950), in which China and the USA also became involved. The war ended on 27 July 1953, with the signing of an armistice at Panmunjom, which reconfirmed the dividing line of the 38th parallel. After the long dictatorship of Kim Il-sung (in power from 1948 to 1994), the office of President of the Republic lay vacant for a few years. Not until 8 October 1997 was a new secretary of the WPK (Workers’ Party of Korea) appointed, the son of the dictator, Kim Jong-il, who had effectively already occupied the position since the death of his father. This is how the “dynastic Communist regime” came into being. On the death of Kim Jong-il (17 December 2011) his son Kim Jong-un assumed power.
According to the Constitution of 27 December 1972, which has been revised several times, legislative power lies in the hands of the Supreme People’s Assembly, whose members (687) are elected for five years from a single list of candidates, that of the WPK. The Assembly appoints and revokes the government and elects the Central Committee from amongst its members. As the result of an amendment to the Constitution of 1998, the office of President of the Republic has been abolished and the late Kim Il-sung has been proclaimed “Eternal President”. The supreme authority at the head of the state is the National Defense Commission.
The policy of alternating conciliatory gestures with provocations (nuclear programme and military operations) helps to strengthen the country’s position in international negotiations, in which it offers détente in exchange for aid for its shaky economy.
Military service is compulsory from the age of 17 and lasts between five and eight years in the army, between five and ten years in the navy, and between three and four years in the air force. Citizens are expected to do compulsory part-time service until the age of 40.
In 2003, the country, which has nuclear weapons, short-range, medium- and long-range missiles, withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty. It conducted nuclear tests in 2006, 2009, 2013, 2016 and 2017.
|Homicides||4.4||per 100 000 pop.||2015|
|Pyeongyang||3 255 288||inhab.||2008|
|Population by age and gender (% - 2020)|
The slump in imports from China due to the country’s isolation enforced to contain the pandemic was added to the pre-existing international sanctions, worsening the already serious economic situation. The new leadership set a parallel development plan for economic and defence policy (byungjin) in 2013, but the measures announced for development of the agricultural and industrial production segment, which is still mostly obsolete, and to create special economic zones open to foreign investors still haven’t been implemented for the most part. There are never enough crops; it is depends on foreign aid to meet food needs and to ensure basic medication for its citizens.
|Agricultural prod. index (2004-06=100)||102.16||index||2016|
|Agricultural prod. index (2014-16=100)||101.83||index||2019|
|Active population||16 371 296||units||2020|
|Active population, Females||47.2||%||2019|
|Unemployment rate, Females||40.2||%||2019|
|Expenses||391 310||M LCU||2005|
|Revenues||391 319||M LCU||2005|
Agricultural production is managed by collectives and is not very efficient. Cereals, which are the staple food, include mainly rice and maize (in the western regions). Reduced exports include nuts, beans and silk. The forests in the north of the country provide a reasonable quantity of timber, which is floated downstream on the Yalu and Tumen rivers. There is not much livestock farming. Fishing is important.
|cereals, total||5 600.072||1000 t||2019|
|roots and tubers, total||1 246.383||1000 t||2019|
|chillies and peppers||44.8||1000 t||2019|
|beans, dry||327.756||1000 t||2019|
|seed cotton||39.163||1000 t||2019|
|hemp tow waste||15.026||1000 t||2019|
|fruits, total||1 804.946||1000 t||2019|
|sweet potatoes||41.148||1000 ha||2019|
|chillies and peppers||21.776||1000 ha||2019|
|beans, dry||371.566||1000 ha||2019|
|seed cotton||19.579||1000 ha||2019|
|hemp tow waste||21.496||1000 ha||2019|
|timber||7 768 985||m³||2019|
|cattle and buffaloes||578||1000 heads||2019|
|pigs||2 451||1000 heads||2019|
|goats||3 705||1000 heads||2019|
|equines, total||48.264||1000 heads||2019|
|birds||23 021||1000 heads||2019|
|silk, raw||0.4||1000 t||2018|
|hides and skins||5.025||1000 t||2019|
|crustaceans and molluscs||88 900||t||2019|
|freshwater fishes||18 850||t||2019|
Secondary and tertiary sector.
Coal and lignite are mined in the provinces of Pyeonganbuk, Pyeongannam and Hamgyeongbuk, iron ore at Musan and Unryul, copper at Hyesan, lead and zinc near Dancheon and Gowon. Another important mineral is magnesite (at Dancheon, Daehung and Yongyang), of which the country has large reserves. The iron and steel industry is important (plans at Cheongjin, Seongjin, Gangseon and Cheollima). There are also large chemical plants, which mostly produce fertilizers, as well as mechanical and textile factories. Twenty-five special economic zones dedicated to businesses with foreign capital formally exist. The Gaeseong industrial zone, opened in 2002 in partnership with South Korea, was closed in 2016. There is also a “special tourist zone” on Mt. Geumgang, to which another was added at Gaeseong from 2007. Both are visited by tourists from South Korea. The country has a trade deficit. Its main trading partner is China.
|coal||17 030.5||1000 t||2019|
|coal, total||17 030.5||1000 t||2019|
|iron ore||2 584||1000 t||2020|
|- hydro||13 650||M kWh||2019|
|- thermal||2 459.04||M kWh||2018|
|- hydro||4 800||1000 kW||2019|
|- thermal||2 960||1000 kW||2018|
|total net generation||15 147.14||M kWh||2018|
|total installed capacity||7 798.78||1000 kW||2018|
|coke, metall.||173.5||1000 t||2018|
|beer of barley||33.126||1000 t||2018|
|cottonseed oil||4.121||1000 t||2018|
|chemical pulp||43$||1000 t||2019|
|chemi-mechanical pulp||56$||1000 t||2019|
|cement||5 685||1000 t||2020|
|Number of arrivals||400 000||units||2002|
Social and welfare
|Expected years of schooling||10.8||years||2015|
|Students, primary level||1 507 780||units||2018|
|Students, secondary level||2 148 364||units||2015|
|Hospital beds||13.2||per 1000 pop.||2012|
|Physicians||3.68||per 1000 pop.||2017|
|Tuberculosis||513||per 100 000 pop.||2019|
|Access to clean fuels and technologies for cooking||10.8||%||2019|
|Access to electricity||49.373||%||2019|