Background: After the Second World War, Korea was divided into the northern part, where the communists established themselves, and the southern part, oriented to the West. After the death of his father, the founder of the state, President KIM Il-sung (KIM ll-sung), North Korea has been headed by KIM Chong-il since 1994. After decades of mismanagement, North Korea is forced to rely on international food aid to feed the population, while at the same time continuing to spend money on maintaining the fifth largest army in the world, numbering over 1 million people. North Korea’s development of long-range missiles and research in the field of nuclear and chemical weapons are causing concern to the world community.
Location: East Asia, the northern half of the Korean peninsula, located on the coast of the West and East Korea bays and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea. See franciscogardening.com to know more about North Korea Geography.
Geographical coordinates: 40° 00′ N. latitude, 127° 00′ E
Reference map: Asia.
Area: total: 120,540 km2; land surface area: 120,410 km2; water surface area: 130 km2
Comparative area: slightly smaller than the state of Mississippi.
Land borders: total: 1,673 km; with neighboring states: with China 1,416 km, with Russia 19 km, with South Korea 238 km.
Coastline: 2,495 km.
Maritime claims: territorial waters: 12 nautical miles; exclusive economic zone: 200 nautical miles; note: there is a 50 nautical mile military boundary line in the Sea of Japan and an exclusive economic zone boundary in the Yellow Sea, within which foreign ships and aircraft are prohibited from entering without permission.
Climate: temperate with abundant summer rains.
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains separated by deep narrow valleys; coastal plains, wide in the west and narrow in the east.
Maximum and minimum heights: lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m; highest point: Mt. Baekdu 2,744 m
Natural Resources: coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorite, hydropower.
Land use: arable land: 14%; cultivated land: 2%; pasture: 0%; forests and plantations: 61%; others: 23% (1993 est.).
Irrigated land: 14,600 km2 (1993 est.).
Natural hazards: droughts that occur in late spring and are often followed by severe floods; typhoons, sometimes occurring in early autumn.
Actual environmental problems: water pollution; poor supply of drinking water; the spread of waterborne diseases; deforestation; erosion and soil degradation.
International agreements on environmental protection: participant: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Environmental Change, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution; signed but not ratified: Antarctica – Protocol on Environmental Protection, Law of the Sea.
Geography note: strategic location between China, South Korea and Russia; the mountainous interior regions of the country are difficult to access and sparsely populated.
Population: 21,968,228 (July 2001 est.).
Age structure: under 14: 25.52% (male 2,873,390; female 2,733,163); 15 to 64 years old: 67.63% (male 7,301,531; female 7,556,554); over 65: 6.85% (male 486,805; female 1,016,785) (2001 est.).
Population growth: 1.22% (2001 est.).
Birth rate: 19.1 newborns / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Mortality: 6.92 deaths / 1000 people. (2001 est.).
Migration: 0 people / 1000 people (2001 est.).
Sex ratio: at birth: 1.05 male/female; under 15: 1.05 male/female; 15 to 64 years old: 0.97 male/female; over 65: 0.48 male/female; for the general population: 0.94 male/female (2001 est.);
Child mortality: 23.55 deaths/1000 live births (2001 est.).
Life expectancy: for the general population: 71.02 years; men: 68.04 years; women: 74.15 years (2001 est.).
General birth rate: 2.26 children/wives. (2001 est.).
Proportion of the adult population infected with HIV: no data available.
Number of people infected with HIV: no data.
Mortality due to AIDS: no data available.
Nationality: noun: Korean; adjective: Korean.
Ethnic groups: the country is homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and some ethnic Japanese.
Believers: traditional Buddhists and Confucians, some Christians and followers of the syncretic religion of Cheondogyo (religion of the heavenly path); note: there is practically no independent religious activity; to create the appearance of freedom of religion, there are religious groups that are on the payroll of the government.
Literacy: Definition: Persons 15 years of age or older who can read and write Korean; for the general population: 99%; men: 99%; women: 99% (1990 est.).
conventional long form: Democratic People’s Republic of Korea;
Common short form: North Korea; local long form: Choson-minjujuui-inmin-konghwaguk; local short form: no; note: for their country, North Koreans usually use the name “Joseon”; abbreviation: DPRK.
State structure: authoritarian socialism; dictatorship of one man.
Administrative division: 9 provinces (do) and 3 provincial cities* (si): Gangwon-do, Goseon*, Nampo*, Pyongannam-do, Pyonganbuk-to, Pyongyang*, Hamgyongnam-do, Hamgyongbuk-do, Hwanghae-nam-do, Hwanghae-buk-do, Chagang-do, Yanggang-do.
Independence: August 15, 1945 (from Japan).
National holiday: Day of the formation of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – September 9 (1948).
Constitution: adopted in 1948, completely revised on December 27, 1972, revised again in April 1992 and September 1998
Legal system: based on the German civil law system with Japanese influence and on the communist legal theory; judicial revision of legislative acts is not allowed; does not accept the compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.
Suffrage: from 17 years old; universal.
head of state: KIM Chen Il (since July 1994); note – in September 1998, Kim Jong Il was re-elected chairman of the National Defense Committee, this post was declared the highest state position; KIM Young-nam was appointed Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People’s Assembly, he was entrusted with diplomatic functions and the acceptance of credentials;
head of government: Prime Minister HONG Song-nam (since 5 September 1998)
government: the Cabinet of Ministers (Naegak), whose members, with the exception of the Minister of the People’s Army, are appointed by the Supreme People’s Assembly; elections: the prime minister is elected by the Supreme People’s Assembly; elections were last held in September 1998 (the date of the next elections is not known); election results: HON Song Nam elected prime minister; percentage of votes in the Supreme People’s Assembly – no data.
Legislature: unicameral Supreme People’s Assembly (Ch’oego Inmin Hoeui) (687 seats; members of the House are directly elected for 5 years); elections: last held 26 July 1998 (next to be held in 2003); election results: distribution of votes between parties – no data; number of seats – the Workers’ Party of Korea approved a single list of candidates who were elected without alternative; small parties won several seats.
Judiciary: Central Court, members of the court are elected by the Supreme People’s Assembly.
Political parties and leaders: Jung-do Chonggu Party (YU Mi-yong, Chairman); Social Democratic Party of Korea (KIM Pyong-sik, chairman); the main party is the Workers’ Party of Korea (KWP) (KIM Jong Il, general secretary).
Political influence groups and their leaders:
Participation in international organizations: ARF (dialogue partner), ESCAP, FAO, G-77, ICAO, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, IMO, Intelsat (nonsignatory user), IOC, ISO, ITU, NAM, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WToO.
Diplomatic representation in the USA: no; note – North Korea has a permanent mission at the UN Headquarters in New York, led by Yl Hyong-chol.
US Diplomatic Representation: None (The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang represents the US at the consular level).
Flag Description: three horizontal stripes of blue (top), red (three times as wide as blue) and blue; red stripe with white edges; at the side adjacent to the staff, a white disk with a red five-pointed star is depicted on the red stripe.