North Korea

North Korea

Overview
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK; Chosŏn'gŭl
Hangul
Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

: , Hanja
Hanja
Hanja is the Korean name for the Chinese characters hanzi. More specifically, it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation...

: ), (commonly known as North Korea ), is a country in East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

. The Korean Demilitarized Zone
Korean Demilitarized Zone
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and...

 serves as the buffer zone
Buffer zone
A buffer zone is generally a zonal area that lies between two or more other areas , but depending on the type of buffer zone, the reason for it may be to segregate regions or to conjoin them....

 between North Korea and South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

. The Amnok
Yalu River
The Yalu River or the Amnok River is a river on the border between North Korea and the People's Republic of China....

, or Yalu, and the Tumen
Tumen River
The Tumen River is a 521 km-long river that serves as part of the boundary between China, North Korea, and Russia, rising in Mount Baekdu and flowing into the Sea of Japan....

 rivers form the border between North Korea and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. A section of the Tumen River in the far northeast is the border with Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

.

The peninsula was governed by the Korean Empire
Korean Empire
The Greater Korean Empire was an empire of Korea that succeeded the Joseon Dynasty.In October 1897, Emperor Gojong proclaimed the new entity at Gyeongungung Palace and oversaw the partially successful modernization of the military, economy, land system, education system, and various industries...

 until it was annexed by Japan
Korea under Japanese rule
Korea was under Japanese rule as part of Japan's 35-year imperialist expansion . Japanese rule ended in 1945 shortly after the Japanese defeat in World War II....

 following the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 of 1905.
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Timeline

1945   The official North Korean newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, is first published under the name ''Chongro''. Australia joins the United Nations.

1946   The Chondoist Chongu Party is founded in North Korea.

1948   The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (North Korea) is established, with Kim Il-sung as leader.

1948   Republic Day of Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

1950   The Korean War begins with the invasion of South Korea by North Korea.

1950   Seoul is captured by North Korean troops.

1950   Korean War: North Korean troops initiate the Battle of Taejon.

1950   United Nations troops recapture Seoul from the North Koreans.

1950   Korean War: United States Air Force Lt. Russell J. Brown shoots down two North Korean MiG-15s in the first jet aircraft-to-jet aircraft dogfight in history.

1950   Korean War: Troops from the People's Republic of China launch a massive counterattack in North Korea against South Korean and United Nations forces (the Battle of the Ch'ongch'on River and the Battle of Chosin Reservoir), ending any hopes of a quick end to the conflict.

 
Encyclopedia
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK; Chosŏn'gŭl
Hangul
Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

: , Hanja
Hanja
Hanja is the Korean name for the Chinese characters hanzi. More specifically, it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation...

: ), (commonly known as North Korea ), is a country in East Asia
East Asia
East Asia or Eastern Asia is a subregion of Asia that can be defined in either geographical or cultural terms...

, occupying the northern half of the Korean Peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

. Its capital and largest city is Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

. The Korean Demilitarized Zone
Korean Demilitarized Zone
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and...

 serves as the buffer zone
Buffer zone
A buffer zone is generally a zonal area that lies between two or more other areas , but depending on the type of buffer zone, the reason for it may be to segregate regions or to conjoin them....

 between North Korea and South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

. The Amnok
Yalu River
The Yalu River or the Amnok River is a river on the border between North Korea and the People's Republic of China....

, or Yalu, and the Tumen
Tumen River
The Tumen River is a 521 km-long river that serves as part of the boundary between China, North Korea, and Russia, rising in Mount Baekdu and flowing into the Sea of Japan....

 rivers form the border between North Korea and China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

. A section of the Tumen River in the far northeast is the border with Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

.

The peninsula was governed by the Korean Empire
Korean Empire
The Greater Korean Empire was an empire of Korea that succeeded the Joseon Dynasty.In October 1897, Emperor Gojong proclaimed the new entity at Gyeongungung Palace and oversaw the partially successful modernization of the military, economy, land system, education system, and various industries...

 until it was annexed by Japan
Korea under Japanese rule
Korea was under Japanese rule as part of Japan's 35-year imperialist expansion . Japanese rule ended in 1945 shortly after the Japanese defeat in World War II....

 following the Russo-Japanese War
Russo-Japanese War
The Russo-Japanese War was "the first great war of the 20th century." It grew out of rival imperial ambitions of the Russian Empire and Japanese Empire over Manchuria and Korea...

 of 1905. It was divided
Division of Korea
The division of Korea into North Korea and South Korea stems from the 1945 Allied victory in World War II, ending Japan's 35-year colonial rule of Korea. In a proposal opposed by nearly all Koreans, the United States and the Soviet Union agreed to temporarily occupy the country as a trusteeship...

 into Soviet and American occupied zones in 1945, following the end of World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

. North Korea refused to participate in a United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

–supervised election held in the south in 1948, which led to the creation of separate Korean governments for the two occupation zones. Both North and South Korea claimed sovereignty
Sovereignty
Sovereignty is the quality of having supreme, independent authority over a geographic area, such as a territory. It can be found in a power to rule and make law that rests on a political fact for which no purely legal explanation can be provided...

 over the Korean Peninsula as a whole, which led to the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

 of 1950. The Armistice Agreement of 1953 ended the fighting; however, the two countries are officially still at war against each other, as a peace treaty was never signed. Both states were accepted into the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 in 1991.

North Korea is a single-party state
Single-party state
A single-party state, one-party system or single-party system is a type of party system government in which a single political party forms the government and no other parties are permitted to run candidates for election...

 under a united front
Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland
The Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, formed on 22 July 1946, is a North Korean united front led by the Workers' Party of Korea. It was initially called the North Korean Fatherland United Democratic Front...

 led by the Korean Workers' Party (KWP). The country's government follows the Juche
Juche
Juche or Chuch'e is a Korean word usually translated as "self-reliance." In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , "Juche" refers specifically to a political thesis of Kim Il-sung, the Juche Idea, that identifies the Korean masses as the masters of the country's development...

 ideology of self-reliance, developed by the country's President
President of North Korea
The President of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was established in the Constitution of North Korea, 1972. Until then, Kim Il-sung, the ruler of North Korea, used the posts Premier and General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea...

, Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

. After his death, Kim Il-sung was declared the country's Eternal President
Eternal President of the Republic
The appellation Eternal President of the Republic was established by a line in the preface to the North Korean constitution, amended on September 5, 1998...

. Juche became the official state ideology when the country adopted a new constitution
Constitution of North Korea
The Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , commonly known as North Korea.Previous constitutions were adopted in 1948, 1972, 1992, and 1998...

 in 1972, though Kim Il-sung had been using it to form policy since at least as early as 1955. After the collapse of the Soviet Union and a series of natural disasters, a famine
North Korean famine
'The North Korean famine was a famine in North Korea which began in the early 1990s...

 occurred, causing the death of 900,000 to 2 million people. Facing these circumstances, leader Kim Jong-Il
Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il, also written as Kim Jong Il, birth name Yuri Irsenovich Kim born 16 February 1941 or 16 February 1942 , is the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea...

 adopted Songun
Songun
Sŏn'gun, often spelled Songun, is North Korea's "Military First" policy, which prioritizes the Korean People's Army in the affairs of state and allocates national resources to the army first...

, or a "military-first" policy in order to strengthen the country and its government.

Many outside organizations describe North Korea as a totalitarian Stalinist dictatorship
Dictatorship
A dictatorship is defined as an autocratic form of government in which the government is ruled by an individual, the dictator. It has three possible meanings:...

 with an elaborate cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

 around the Kim family and one of the lowest-ranking human rights
Human rights in North Korea
The human rights record of North Korea is extremely hard to fully assess due to the secretive and closed nature of the country. The North Korean government makes it very difficult for foreigners to enter the country and strictly monitors their activities when they do...

 records of any country. The North Korean government denies this association. North Korea is the world's most militarized nation, with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve, and paramilitary
Paramilitary
A paramilitary is a force whose function and organization are similar to those of a professional military, but which is not considered part of a state's formal armed forces....

 personnel. It is a nuclear weapons state, and has an active space program.

History


In the aftermath of the Japanese occupation of Korea
Korea under Japanese rule
Korea was under Japanese rule as part of Japan's 35-year imperialist expansion . Japanese rule ended in 1945 shortly after the Japanese defeat in World War II....

 which ended with Japan's defeat in World War II
World War II
World War II, or the Second World War , was a global conflict lasting from 1939 to 1945, involving most of the world's nations—including all of the great powers—eventually forming two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis...

 in 1945, Korea was divided at the 38th parallel
38th parallel north
The 38th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 38 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean...

 in accordance with a United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

 arrangement, to be administered by the Soviet Union
Soviet Union
The Soviet Union , officially the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics , was a constitutionally socialist state that existed in Eurasia between 1922 and 1991....

 in the north and the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 in the south. The history of North Korea formally begins with the establishment of the Democratic People's Republic
People's Republic
People's Republic is a title that has often been used by Marxist-Leninist governments to describe their state. The motivation for using this term lies in the claim that Marxist-Leninists govern in accordance with the interests of the vast majority of the people, and, as such, a Marxist-Leninist...

 in 1948.

Division of Korea



In August 1945, the Soviet Army
Soviet Army
The Soviet Army is the name given to the main part of the Armed Forces of the Soviet Union between 1946 and 1992. Previously, it had been known as the Red Army. Informally, Армия referred to all the MOD armed forces, except, in some cases, the Soviet Navy.This article covers the Soviet Ground...

 established a Soviet Civil Authority to rule the northern portion of the Korean Peninsula until a domestic regime, friendly to the USSR, could be established. This became governed by the Provisional People's Committee for North Korea
Provisional People's Committee for North Korea
The Provisional People’s Committee for North Korea was the official name of the provisional government governing the northern portion of the Korean Peninsula following its post-World War II partition by the United States and the Soviet Union after the defeat of the Empire of Japan in 1945...

 through 1948. After the Soviet forces' departure in 1948, the main agenda in the following years was unification of Korea until the consolidation of Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee or Yi Seungman was the first president of South Korea. His presidency, from August 1948 to April 1960, remains controversial, affected by Cold War tensions on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere. Rhee was regarded as an anti-Communist and a strongman, and he led South Korea through the...

 regime in the South with American military support and the suppression of the October 1948 insurrection ended hopes that the country could be reunified by way of Communist revolution in the South.
In 1949, a military intervention into South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

 was considered by Kim Il-sung, but failed to receive support from the Soviet Union, which had played a key role in the establishment of the country.

The withdrawal of most United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 forces from the South in June dramatically weakened the Southern regime
Syngman Rhee
Syngman Rhee or Yi Seungman was the first president of South Korea. His presidency, from August 1948 to April 1960, remains controversial, affected by Cold War tensions on the Korean peninsula and elsewhere. Rhee was regarded as an anti-Communist and a strongman, and he led South Korea through the...

 and encouraged Kim Il-sung to rethink an invasion plan against the South. The idea itself was first rejected by Joseph Stalin
Joseph Stalin
Joseph Vissarionovich Stalin was the Premier of the Soviet Union from 6 May 1941 to 5 March 1953. He was among the Bolshevik revolutionaries who brought about the October Revolution and had held the position of first General Secretary of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union's Central Committee...

 but with the development of Soviet nuclear weapons, Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong
Mao Zedong, also transliterated as Mao Tse-tung , and commonly referred to as Chairman Mao , was a Chinese Communist revolutionary, guerrilla warfare strategist, Marxist political philosopher, and leader of the Chinese Revolution...

's victory in China and the Chinese indication that it would send troops and other support to North Korea, Stalin approved an invasion which led to the Korean War
Korean War
The Korean War was a conventional war between South Korea, supported by the United Nations, and North Korea, supported by the People's Republic of China , with military material aid from the Soviet Union...

.

Korean War


After Korea was divided by the UN, the two Korean powers both tried to control the whole Korea
Korea
Korea ) is an East Asian geographic region that is currently divided into two separate sovereign states — North Korea and South Korea. Located on the Korean Peninsula, Korea is bordered by the People's Republic of China to the northwest, Russia to the northeast, and is separated from Japan to the...

 under their respective governments. This led to escalating border conflicts on the 38th parallel
38th parallel north
The 38th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 38 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean...

 and attempts to negotiate elections for the whole of Korea. These attempts ended when the military of North Korea invaded the South on June 25, 1950, leading to a full-scale civil war. With endorsement from the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

, countries allied with the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 intervened on behalf of South Korea. After rapid advances in a South Korean counterattack, North-allied Chinese
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

 forces intervened on behalf of North Korea, shifting the balance of the war. Fighting ended on July 27, 1953, with an armistice that approximately restored the original boundaries between North and South Korea. More than 2 million civilians and soldiers were killed in the war.

Although some have referred to the conflict as a civil war, other important factors were involved. The Korean War was also the first armed confrontation of the Cold War
Cold War
The Cold War was the continuing state from roughly 1946 to 1991 of political conflict, military tension, proxy wars, and economic competition between the Communist World—primarily the Soviet Union and its satellite states and allies—and the powers of the Western world, primarily the United States...

 and set the standard for many later conflicts. It created the idea of a proxy war
Proxy war
A proxy war or proxy warfare is a war that results when opposing powers use third parties as substitutes for fighting each other directly. While powers have sometimes used governments as proxies, violent non-state actors, mercenaries, or other third parties are more often employed...

, where the two superpower
Superpower
A superpower is a state with a dominant position in the international system which has the ability to influence events and its own interests and project power on a worldwide scale to protect those interests...

s would fight in another country, forcing the people in that country to suffer most of the destruction and death involved in a war between such large nations. The superpowers avoided descending into an all-out war
Limited war
A limited war is a conflict in which the belligerents participating in the war do not expend all of each of the participants available resources at their disposal, whether human, industrial, agricultural, military, natural, technological, or otherwise in a specific conflict...

 against one another, as well as the mutual use of nuclear weapons. It also expanded the Cold War, which to that point had mostly been concerned with Europe. A heavily guarded demilitarized zone
Korean Demilitarized Zone
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and...

 on the 38th parallel still divides the peninsula, and an anti-Communist and anti-North Korea sentiment remains in South Korea.

Since the Armistice in 1953, relations between the North Korean government and South Korea, the European Union
European Union
The European Union is an economic and political union of 27 independent member states which are located primarily in Europe. The EU traces its origins from the European Coal and Steel Community and the European Economic Community , formed by six countries in 1958...

, Canada
Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

, the United States, and Japan have remained tense, and hostile incidents occur often. North and South Korea signed the June 15th North-South Joint Declaration
June 15th North-South Joint Declaration
The June 15th North–South Joint Declaration was adopted between leaders of North and South Korea in June 2000 after various diplomatic meetings between the North and South...

 in 2000, in which they promised to seek peaceful reunification. On October 4, 2007, the leaders of North and South Korea pledged to hold summit talks to officially declare the war over and reaffirmed the principle of mutual non-aggression.

Late 20th century


The relative peace between the south and the north was interrupted by border skirmishes and assassination attempts. The North failed in several assassination attempts on South Korean leaders, most notably in 1968, 1974 and the Rangoon bombing
Rangoon bombing
The Rangoon bombing of October 9, 1983, was an assassination attempt against Chun Doo-hwan, the then-President of South Korea, allegedly orchestrated by North Korea. Two of the bombers were captured, one of whom confessed to being a North Korean military officer.-Bombing:On October 9, 1983,...

 in 1983; tunnels were frequently found under the DMZ and war nearly broke out over the Axe Murder Incident
Axe Murder Incident
The axe murder incident was the killing of two United States Army officers by North Korean soldiers on August 18, 1976, in the Joint Security Area located in the Korean Demilitarized Zone which forms the de facto border between North and South Korea...

 at Panmunjeom
Panmunjeom
Panmunjom, located in Gyeonggi Province, is a village on the de facto border between North and South Korea, where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War was signed. The building where the armistice was signed still stands, though it is on the northern side of the Military...

 in 1976. In 1973, extremely secret, high-level contacts began to be conducted through the offices of the Red Cross, but ended after the Panmunjeom incident with little progress having been made and the idea that the two Koreas would join international organisations separately.

In the late 1990s, with the South having transitioned to liberal democracy
Liberal democracy
Liberal democracy, also known as constitutional democracy, is a common form of representative democracy. According to the principles of liberal democracy, elections should be free and fair, and the political process should be competitive...

, the success of the Nordpolitik
Nordpolitik
Nordpolitik was the signature foreign policy of South Korean president Roh Tae-woo. Named in 1983 by then-Foreign Minister Lee Beom Suk but not formally announced until the run-up to the 1988 Seoul Olympics, the policy guided South Korean efforts to reach out to the traditional allies of North...

 policy, and power in the North having been taken up by Kim Il-sung's son Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il, also written as Kim Jong Il, birth name Yuri Irsenovich Kim born 16 February 1941 or 16 February 1942 , is the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea...

, the two nations began to engage publicly for the first time, with the South declaring its Sunshine Policy
Sunshine policy
The Sunshine Policy was the foreign policy of South Korea towards North Korea until Lee Myung-bak's election to presidency in 2008. Since its articulation in 1998 by South Korean President Kim Dae Jung, the policy resulted in greater political contact between the two nations and some historical...

.

21st century


In 2002, United States president George W. Bush
George W. Bush
George Walker Bush is an American politician who served as the 43rd President of the United States, from 2001 to 2009. Before that, he was the 46th Governor of Texas, having served from 1995 to 2000....

 labeled North Korea part of an "axis of evil
Axis of evil
"Axis of evil" is a term initially used by the former United States President George W. Bush in his State of the Union Address on January 29, 2002 and often repeated throughout his presidency, describing governments that he accused of helping terrorism and seeking weapons of mass destruction...

" and an "outpost of tyranny
Outposts of tyranny
Outposts of tyranny was a term used in 2005 by United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and subsequently by others in the U.S. government to characterize the governments of certain countries as being totalitarian regimes or dictatorships...

". The highest-level contact the government has had with the United States was with U.S. Secretary of State
United States Secretary of State
The United States Secretary of State is the head of the United States Department of State, concerned with foreign affairs. The Secretary is a member of the Cabinet and the highest-ranking cabinet secretary both in line of succession and order of precedence...

 Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Albright
Madeleine Korbelová Albright is the first woman to become a United States Secretary of State. She was appointed by U.S. President Bill Clinton on December 5, 1996, and was unanimously confirmed by a U.S. Senate vote of 99–0...

, who made a visit to Pyongyang in 2000, but the two countries do not have formal diplomatic relations. By 2006, approximately 37,000 American soldiers remained in South Korea, although by June 2009 this number had fallen to around 30,000. Kim Jong-il has privately stated his acceptance of U.S. troops on the peninsula, even after a possible reunification
Korean reunification
Korean reunification refers to the hypothetical future reunification of North Korea and South Korea under a single government...

. Publicly, North Korea strongly demands the removal of American troops from Korea.

On June 13, 2009, the Associated Press
Associated Press
The Associated Press is an American news agency. The AP is a cooperative owned by its contributing newspapers, radio and television stations in the United States, which both contribute stories to the AP and use material written by its staff journalists...

 reported that in response to new UN sanctions, North Korea declared it would progress with its uranium enrichment program. This marked the first time the DPRK has publicly acknowledged that it is conducting a uranium enrichment program. In August 2009, former US president Bill Clinton
Bill Clinton
William Jefferson "Bill" Clinton is an American politician who served as the 42nd President of the United States from 1993 to 2001. Inaugurated at age 46, he was the third-youngest president. He took office at the end of the Cold War, and was the first president of the baby boomer generation...

 met with Kim Jong-il to secure the release of two US journalists, who had been sentenced for entering the country illegally. Current U.S. President Barack Obama
Barack Obama
Barack Hussein Obama II is the 44th and current President of the United States. He is the first African American to hold the office. Obama previously served as a United States Senator from Illinois, from January 2005 until he resigned following his victory in the 2008 presidential election.Born in...

's position towards North Korea has been to remain calm in the face of North Korea's provocations while resisting making deals with North Korea merely for the sake of defusing tension, a policy known as "strategic patience."

On November 23, 2010, North Korea fired about 170 rounds of artillery on Yeonpyeong Island and the surrounding waters near the Yellow Sea border, with some 90 shells landing on the island. The attack resulted in the deaths of two marines and two civilians on the South Korean side, and fifteen marines and at least three civilians wounded. The South fired back 80 shells, with unknown effects.
North Korean news sources alleged that the North Korean actions, described as "a prompt and powerful physical strike", were in response to provocation from South Korea that had held an artillery exercise in the disputed waters south of the island.

Former US President Jimmy Carter
Jimmy Carter
James Earl "Jimmy" Carter, Jr. is an American politician who served as the 39th President of the United States and was the recipient of the 2002 Nobel Peace Prize, the only U.S. President to have received the Prize after leaving office...

 made a call for a peaceful solution of this crisis.

Geography



North Korea occupies the northern portion of the Korean Peninsula
Korean Peninsula
The Korean Peninsula is a peninsula in East Asia. It extends southwards for about 684 miles from continental Asia into the Pacific Ocean and is surrounded by the Sea of Japan to the south, and the Yellow Sea to the west, the Korea Strait connecting the first two bodies of water.Until the end of...

, lying between latitudes 37°
37th parallel north
The 37th parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 37 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Africa, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

 and 43°N
43rd parallel north
The 43rd parallel north is a circle of latitude that is 43 degrees north of the Earth's equatorial plane. It crosses Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, North America, and the Atlantic Ocean....

, and longitudes 124°
124th meridian east
The meridian 124° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, the Pacific Ocean, the Indian Ocean, Australia, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

 and 131°E
131st meridian east
The meridian 131° east of Greenwich is a line of longitude that extends from the North Pole across the Arctic Ocean, Asia, Australia, the Indian Ocean, the Southern Ocean, and Antarctica to the South Pole....

. It covers an area of 120540 square kilometres (46,541 sq mi). North Korea shares land borders with People's Republic of China and Russia to the north, and borders South Korea along the Korean Demilitarized Zone
Korean Demilitarized Zone
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and...

. To its west are the Yellow Sea
Yellow Sea
The Yellow Sea is the name given to the northern part of the East China Sea, which is a marginal sea of the Pacific Ocean. It is located between mainland China and the Korean Peninsula. Its name comes from the sand particles from Gobi Desert sand storms that turn the surface of the water golden...

 and Korea Bay
Korea Bay
The Korea Bay is a northern extension of the Yellow Sea, between Liaoning Province of China and North P'yŏngan Province of North Korea.It is separated from the Bohai Sea by the Liaodong Peninsula, with Dalian at its southernmost point...

, and to its east lies Japan across the Sea of Japan
Sea of Japan
The Sea of Japan is a marginal sea of the western Pacific Ocean, between the Asian mainland, the Japanese archipelago and Sakhalin. It is bordered by Japan, North Korea, Russia and South Korea. Like the Mediterranean Sea, it has almost no tides due to its nearly complete enclosure from the Pacific...

 (East Sea of Korea). The highest point in North Korea is Paektu-san Mountain
Baekdu Mountain
Baekdu Mountain, also known in China as Changbai Mountain and Baitou Mountain , is a volcanic mountain on the border between North Korea and China, located at...

 at 2744 metres (9,003 ft). The longest river is the Amnok River which flows for 790 kilometres (491 mi).
The capital and largest city is Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

; other major cities include Kaesong
Kaesong
Kaesŏng is a city in North Hwanghae Province, southern North Korea , a former Directly Governed City, and the capital of Korea during the Koryo Dynasty. The city is near Kaesŏng Industrial Region and it contains the remains of the Manwoldae palace. It was formally named Songdo while it was the...

 in the south, Sinuiju
Sinuiju
Sinŭiju is a city in North Korea, neighboring with Dandong City, China via international border and is the capital of North P'yŏngan Province...

 in the northwest, Wonsan
Wonsan
Wŏnsan is a port city and naval base in southeastern North Korea. It is the capital of Kangwŏn Province. The population of the city is estimated to have been 331,000 in 2000. Notable people from Wŏnsan include Kim Ki Nam, diplomat and Secretary of the Workers' Party.- History :The original name of...

 and Hamhung
Hamhung
Hamhŭng is North Korea's second largest city, and the capital of South Hamgyŏng Province. In late 2005, nearby Hŭngnam was made a ward within Hamhŭng-si. It has a population of 768,551 as of 2008.-Geography:...

 in the east and Chongjin
Chongjin
Ch'ŏngjin is the capital of North Korea's North Hamgyŏng Province and the country's third largest city. From 1960 to 1967 and again from 1977 to 1985, Ch'ŏngjin was administered separately from North Hamgyŏng as a Directly Governed City...

 in the northeast.

Topography




Early Europe
Europe
Europe is, by convention, one of the world's seven continents. Comprising the westernmost peninsula of Eurasia, Europe is generally 'divided' from Asia to its east by the watershed divides of the Ural and Caucasus Mountains, the Ural River, the Caspian and Black Seas, and the waterways connecting...

an visitors to Korea remarked that the country resembled "a sea in a heavy gale" because of the many successive mountain range
Mountain range
A mountain range is a single, large mass consisting of a succession of mountains or narrowly spaced mountain ridges, with or without peaks, closely related in position, direction, formation, and age; a component part of a mountain system or of a mountain chain...

s that crisscross the peninsula. Some 80% of North Korea is composed of mountain
Mountain
Image:Himalaya_annotated.jpg|thumb|right|The Himalayan mountain range with Mount Everestrect 58 14 160 49 Chomo Lonzorect 200 28 335 52 Makalurect 378 24 566 45 Mount Everestrect 188 581 920 656 Tibetan Plateaurect 250 406 340 427 Rong River...

s and uplands
Highland (geography)
The term highland or upland is used to denote any mountainous region or elevated mountainous plateau. Generally speaking, the term upland tends to be used for ranges of hills, typically up to 500-600m, and highland for ranges of low mountains.The Scottish Highlands refers to the mountainous...

, separated by deep and narrow valley
Valley
In geology, a valley or dale is a depression with predominant extent in one direction. A very deep river valley may be called a canyon or gorge.The terms U-shaped and V-shaped are descriptive terms of geography to characterize the form of valleys...

s, with all of the peninsula's mountains with elevations of 2000 metres (6,561.7 ft) or more located in North Korea. The coastal plain
Plain
In geography, a plain is land with relatively low relief, that is flat or gently rolling. Prairies and steppes are types of plains, and the archetype for a plain is often thought of as a grassland, but plains in their natural state may also be covered in shrublands, woodland and forest, or...

s are wide in the west and discontinuous in the east. A great majority of the population lives in the plains and lowland
Lowland
In physical geography, a lowland is any broad expanse of land with a general low level. The term is thus applied to the landward portion of the upward slope from oceanic depths to continental highlands, to a region of depression in the interior of a mountainous region, to a plain of denudation, or...

s.

The highest point in North Korea is Baekdu Mountain
Baekdu Mountain
Baekdu Mountain, also known in China as Changbai Mountain and Baitou Mountain , is a volcanic mountain on the border between North Korea and China, located at...

 which is a volcanic mountain
Volcano
2. Bedrock3. Conduit 4. Base5. Sill6. Dike7. Layers of ash emitted by the volcano8. Flank| 9. Layers of lava emitted by the volcano10. Throat11. Parasitic cone12. Lava flow13. Vent14. Crater15...

 near the Chinese border with basalt
Basalt
Basalt is a common extrusive volcanic rock. It is usually grey to black and fine-grained due to rapid cooling of lava at the surface of a planet. It may be porphyritic containing larger crystals in a fine matrix, or vesicular, or frothy scoria. Unweathered basalt is black or grey...

 lava
Lava
Lava refers both to molten rock expelled by a volcano during an eruption and the resulting rock after solidification and cooling. This molten rock is formed in the interior of some planets, including Earth, and some of their satellites. When first erupted from a volcanic vent, lava is a liquid at...

 plateau
Plateau
In geology and earth science, a plateau , also called a high plain or tableland, is an area of highland, usually consisting of relatively flat terrain. A highly eroded plateau is called a dissected plateau...

 with elevations between 1400 and 2000 m (4,593.2 and 6,561.7 ft) above sea level. The Hamgyong Range, located in the extreme northeastern part of the peninsula, has many high peaks including Gwanmosan at approximately 1756 m (5,761 ft).

Other major ranges include the Rangrim Mountains, which are located in the north-central part of North Korea and run in a north-south direction, making communication between the eastern and western parts of the country rather difficult; and the Kangnam
Kangnam Mountains
The Kangnam Mountains are a mountain range of North Korea, in the central part of the country's northern region. They run parallel to the Amnok River which forms the border with China. They lie west of the Rangrim Mountains, which is the drainage divide between northwestern and northeastern Korea....

 Range, which runs along the North Korea–China border. Geumgangsan, often written Mt Kumgang, or Diamond Mountain, (approximately 1638 metres or 5,374 ft) in the Taebaek Range
Taebaek Mountains
The Taebaek Mountains are a mountain range in both North Korea and South Korea. They form the main ridge of the Korean peninsula.-Geography:...

, which extends into South Korea, is famous for its scenic beauty.

For the most part, the plains are small. The most extensive are the Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

 and Chaeryong
Chaeryong
-Geography:Located on the Chaeryŏng River, the county is bordered to the west by Anak and Sinch'ŏn, to the south by Sinwŏn, and to the east by Ŭnp'a, Pongsan and Sariwŏn in North Hwanghae Province.-History:...

 plains, each covering about 500 square kilometres (193.1 sq mi). Because the mountains on the east coast drop abruptly to the sea, the plains are even smaller there than on the west coast. Unlike neighboring Japan or northern China, North Korea experiences few severe earthquake
Earthquake
An earthquake is the result of a sudden release of energy in the Earth's crust that creates seismic waves. The seismicity, seismism or seismic activity of an area refers to the frequency, type and size of earthquakes experienced over a period of time...

s.

Climate



North Korea has a continental climate
Continental climate
Continental climate is a climate characterized by important annual variation in temperature due to the lack of significant bodies of water nearby...

 with four distinct seasons. Long winters bring bitter cold and clear weather interspersed with snow storms as a result of northern and northwestern winds that blow from Siberia
Siberia
Siberia is an extensive region constituting almost all of Northern Asia. Comprising the central and eastern portion of the Russian Federation, it was part of the Soviet Union from its beginning, as its predecessor states, the Tsardom of Russia and the Russian Empire, conquered it during the 16th...

. Average snowfall is 37 days during the winter. The weather is likely to be particularly harsh in the northern, mountainous regions.

Summer tends to be short, hot, humid, and rainy because of the southern and southeastern monsoon
Monsoon
Monsoon is traditionally defined as a seasonal reversing wind accompanied by corresponding changes in precipitation, but is now used to describe seasonal changes in atmospheric circulation and precipitation associated with the asymmetric heating of land and sea...

 winds that bring moist air from the Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

. Typhoons affect the peninsula on an average of at least once every summer. Spring and autumn are transitional seasons marked by mild temperatures and variable winds and bring the most pleasant weather. Natural hazards include late spring droughts which often are followed by severe flooding. There are occasional typhoons during the early fall.

North Korea's climate is relatively temperate
Temperate
In geography, temperate or tepid latitudes of the globe lie between the tropics and the polar circles. The changes in these regions between summer and winter are generally relatively moderate, rather than extreme hot or cold...

. Most of the country is classified as type Dwa in the Köppen climate classification
Köppen climate classification
The Köppen climate classification is one of the most widely used climate classification systems. It was first published by Crimea German climatologist Wladimir Köppen in 1884, with several later modifications by Köppen himself, notably in 1918 and 1936...

 scheme, with warm summers and cold, dry winters. In summer there is a short rainy season called changma. On August 7, 2007, the most devastating floods
2007 North Korea flooding
Flooding in North Korea in August 2007 caused extensive damage and loss of life. The flooding affected most of the southern half of the country including the capital and some of its most productive agricultural regions...

 in 40 years caused the North Korean government to ask for international help. NGOs, such as the Red Cross, asked people to raise funds because they feared a humanitarian catastrophe.

Administrative divisions


Culture and arts






North Korea shares its traditional culture with South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

, but the two Koreas have developed distinct contemporary forms of culture since the peninsula was divided in 1945. Historically, while the culture of Korea has been influenced by that of neighbouring China, it has nevertheless managed to develop a unique and distinct cultural identity from its larger neighbour.

Literature and arts in North Korea are state-controlled, mostly through the Propaganda and Agitation Department or the Culture and Arts Department of the Central Committee of the KWP.

Korean culture came under attack during the Japanese rule
Korea under Japanese rule
Korea was under Japanese rule as part of Japan's 35-year imperialist expansion . Japanese rule ended in 1945 shortly after the Japanese defeat in World War II....

 from 1910 to 1945. Japan enforced a cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation
Cultural assimilation is a socio-political response to demographic multi-ethnicity that supports or promotes the assimilation of ethnic minorities into the dominant culture. The term assimilation is often used with regard to immigrants and various ethnic groups who have settled in a new land. New...

 policy. During the Japanese rule, Koreans were encouraged to learn and speak Japanese, adopt the Japanese family name system and Shinto
Shinto
or Shintoism, also kami-no-michi, is the indigenous spirituality of Japan and the Japanese people. It is a set of practices, to be carried out diligently, to establish a connection between present day Japan and its ancient past. Shinto practices were first recorded and codified in the written...

 religion, and were forbidden to write or speak the Korean language in schools, businesses, or public places. In addition, the Japanese altered or destroyed various Korean monuments including Gyeongbok Palace
Gyeongbokgung
Gyeongbokgung, also known as Gyeongbokgung Palace or Gyeongbok Palace, is a royal palace located in northern Seoul, South Korea. First constructed in 1394 and reconstructed in 1867, it was the main and largest palace of the Five Grand Palaces built by the Joseon Dynasty...

 and documents which portrayed the Japanese in a negative light were revised.

In July 2004, the Complex of Goguryeo Tombs
Complex of Goguryeo Tombs
The Complex of Goguryeo Tombs lie in North Korea. In July 2004, they became the first UNESCO World Heritage site in the country. The site consists of 30 individual tombs from the later Goguryeo kingdom, one of Three Kingdoms of Korea, located in the cities of P'yŏngyang and Namp'o...

 became the first site in the country to be included in the UNESCO
UNESCO
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization is a specialized agency of the United Nations...

 list of World Heritage Site
World Heritage Site
A UNESCO World Heritage Site is a place that is listed by the UNESCO as of special cultural or physical significance...

s.

In February 2008, The New York Philharmonic Orchestra became the first US orchestra to perform in North Korea, albeit for a handpicked "invited audience." The concert was broadcast on national television. The U.S. Christian band Casting Crowns were previously invited to perform at the annual Spring Friendship Arts Festival in April 2007, held in Pyongyang.

A popular event in North Korea is the Mass Games
Mass games
Mass games or mass gymnastics are a form of performing arts or gymnastics in which large numbers of performers take part in a highly regimented performance that emphasizes group dynamics rather than individual prowess.-Methods:...

. The most recent and largest Mass Games was called "Arirang
Arirang Festival
The Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance Arirang are held in the Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea...

". It was performed six nights a week for two months, and involved over 100,000 performers. Attendees to this event in recent years report that the anti-West sentiments have been toned down compared to previous performances. The Mass Games involve performances of dance, gymnastics, and choreographic
Choreography
Choreography is the art of designing sequences of movements in which motion, form, or both are specified. Choreography may also refer to the design itself, which is sometimes expressed by means of dance notation. The word choreography literally means "dance-writing" from the Greek words "χορεία" ...

 routines which celebrate the history of North Korea and the Workers' Party Revolution. The Mass Games are held in Pyongyang at various venues (varying according to the scale of the Games in a particular year) including the Rungrado May Day Stadium
Rungrado May Day Stadium
The Rŭngrado May First Stadium, or May Day Stadium, is a multi-purpose stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, completed on May 1, 1989.-Overview:The stadium was constructed as a main stadium for the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students in 1989....

, which is the largest stadium in the world with a capacity of 150,000 people.

North Korea employs artists to produce art for export at the Mansudae Art Studio in Pyongyang. Over 1,000 artists are employed. Products include water colors, ink drawings, posters, mosaics and embroidery. Socialist realism
Socialist realism
Socialist realism is a style of realistic art which was developed in the Soviet Union and became a dominant style in other communist countries. Socialist realism is a teleologically-oriented style having its purpose the furtherance of the goals of socialism and communism...

 is the approved style with North Korea being portrayed as prosperous and progressive and its citizens as happy and enthusiastic. Traditional Korean designs and themes are present most often in the embroidery. The artistic and technical quality of the works produced is very high but other than a few wealthy South Korean collectors there is a limited market due to public taste and reluctance of states and collectors to financially support the regime.

Government and politics




North Korea is a self-described Juche
Juche
Juche or Chuch'e is a Korean word usually translated as "self-reliance." In the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , "Juche" refers specifically to a political thesis of Kim Il-sung, the Juche Idea, that identifies the Korean masses as the masters of the country's development...

 (self-reliant) state, described by some observers as a "hereditary dictatorship" with a pronounced cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

 organized around Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung
Kim Il-sung was a Korean communist politician who led the Democratic People's Republic of Korea from its founding in 1948 until his death in 1994. He held the posts of Prime Minister from 1948 to 1972 and President from 1972 to his death...

 (the founder of North Korea and the country's only president
President
A president is a leader of an organization, company, trade union, university, or country.Etymologically, a president is one who presides, who sits in leadership...

) and his son and heir, Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il, also written as Kim Jong Il, birth name Yuri Irsenovich Kim born 16 February 1941 or 16 February 1942 , is the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea...

. Following Kim Il-sung's death in 1994, he was not replaced but instead received the designation of "Eternal President
Eternal President of the Republic
The appellation Eternal President of the Republic was established by a line in the preface to the North Korean constitution, amended on September 5, 1998...

", and was entombed in the vast Kumsusan Memorial Palace
Kumsusan Memorial Palace
The Kumsusan Memorial Palace, sometimes referred to as the Kim Il-sung Mausoleum, is a building located northeast of downtown Pyongyang, the capital city of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea . The palace is the former official residence and office of North Korea's president and founder,...

 in central Pyongyang.

Although the office of the President is ceremonially held by the deceased Kim Il-sung, the de facto
De facto
De facto is a Latin expression that means "concerning fact." In law, it often means "in practice but not necessarily ordained by law" or "in practice or actuality, but not officially established." It is commonly used in contrast to de jure when referring to matters of law, governance, or...

 head of state is Kim Jong-il, who is Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea
Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea
The Chairman of the National Defense Commission of North Korea is the supreme commander of the armed forces of North Korea and the most powerful person in the government...

 and General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea
General Secretary of the Workers' Party of Korea
Prior to 1966 the leader of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea was the Chairman of the Central Committee. Since 1966, the year a party congress reformed the structure of the Party, the Central Committee has elected a leader called the General Secretary.-General Secretary of the...

. The legislature of North Korea is the Supreme People's Assembly
Supreme People's Assembly
The Supreme People's Assembly is the unicameral parliament of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , commonly known as North Korea...

, currently led by Chairman
Supreme People's Assembly
The Supreme People's Assembly is the unicameral parliament of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , commonly known as North Korea...

 Kim Yong-nam
Kim Yong-nam
Kim Yong-nam is the current North Korean Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly, a position held since 1998. He was elected a member of the presidium of the politburo of the central committee of the Workers' Party of Korea in 2010.He was born in the Central District, Heijo ,...

. The other senior government figure is Premier Choe Yong-rim
Choe Yong-rim
Choe Yong-rim is the Premier of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea since May 2011 and Workers' Party of Korea central committee presidium member since September 2010., KCNA, 29 September 2010.Choe is described by the New York Times as a "KWP insider" and a...

.

The structure of the government is described in the Constitution of North Korea
Constitution of North Korea
The Socialist Constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is the constitution of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , commonly known as North Korea.Previous constitutions were adopted in 1948, 1972, 1992, and 1998...

, the latest version of which is from 2009 and officially rejects North Korea's founding ideology of communism. The governing party by law is the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland
Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland
The Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland, formed on 22 July 1946, is a North Korean united front led by the Workers' Party of Korea. It was initially called the North Korean Fatherland United Democratic Front...

, a coalition of the Workers' Party of Korea
Workers' Party of Korea
The Workers' Party of Korea is the ruling Communist party of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , commonly known as North Korea. It is also called the Korean Workers' Party...

 and two other smaller parties, the Korean Social Democratic Party
Korean Social Democratic Party
The Korean Social Democratic Party is a political party in North Korea, allied with the ruling Workers' Party of Korea. Initially a moderate social democratic party, it was formed on November 3, 1945, by medium and small entrepreneurs, merchants, handicraftsmen, petite bourgeoisie, peasants and...

 and the Chondoist Chongu Party
Chondoist Chongu Party
The Chondoist Chongu Party is a united front party in North Korea and is labeled as democratic by the government of the country. The party was founded on February 5, 1946, by a group of followers of the Chondogyo religion...

. These parties nominate all candidates for office and hold all seats in the Supreme People's Assembly.

In June 2009, it was reported in South Korean media that intelligence indicates the country's next leader will be Kim Jong-un, the youngest of Kim Jong-il's three sons.

Foreign relations



North Korea has long maintained close relations with the People's Republic of China and Russia. The fall of communism
Revolutions of 1989
The Revolutions of 1989 were the revolutions which overthrew the communist regimes in various Central and Eastern European countries.The events began in Poland in 1989, and continued in Hungary, East Germany, Bulgaria, Czechoslovakia and...

 in eastern Europe in 1989, and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991, resulted in a devastating drop in aid to North Korea from Russia, although China continues to provide substantial assistance. North Korea continues to have strong ties with its socialist
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 southeast Asian allies in Vietnam
Vietnam
Vietnam – sometimes spelled Viet Nam , officially the Socialist Republic of Vietnam – is the easternmost country on the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia. It is bordered by China to the north, Laos to the northwest, Cambodia to the southwest, and the South China Sea –...

 and Laos
Laos
Laos Lao: ສາທາລະນະລັດ ປະຊາທິປະໄຕ ປະຊາຊົນລາວ Sathalanalat Paxathipatai Paxaxon Lao, officially the Lao People's Democratic Republic, is a landlocked country in Southeast Asia, bordered by Burma and China to the northwest, Vietnam to the east, Cambodia to the south and Thailand to the west...

, as well as with Cambodia
Cambodia
Cambodia , officially known as the Kingdom of Cambodia, is a country located in the southern portion of the Indochina Peninsula in Southeast Asia...

.
North Korea has started installing a concrete and barbed wire fence on its northern border, in response to China's wish to curb refugees fleeing from North Korea. Previously the border between China and North Korea had only been lightly patrolled.

As a result of the North Korean nuclear weapons program
North Korea and weapons of mass destruction
North Korea has declared that it has nuclear weapons and is believed by many to have nuclear weapons. The CIA assesses that North Korea also has a substantial arsenal of chemical weapons...

, the Six-party talks
Six-party talks
The six-party talks aim to find a peaceful resolution to the security concerns as a result of the North Korean nuclear weapons program.There has been a series of meetings with six participating states:* The Democratic People's Republic of Korea ;...

 were established to find a peaceful solution to the growing tension between the two Korean governments, the Russian Federation, the People's Republic of China, Japan, and the United States.

On July 17, 2007, United Nations inspectors verified the shutdown of five North Korean nuclear facilities, according to the February 2007 agreement.

On October 4, 2007, South Korean President Roh Moo-Hyun and North Korean leader Kim Jong-il signed an 8-point peace agreement, on issues of permanent peace, high-level talks, economic cooperation, renewal of train, highway and air travel, and a joint Olympic cheering squad.

The United States and South Korea previously designated the North as a state sponsor of terrorism. The 1983 bombing that killed members of the South Korean government
Rangoon bombing
The Rangoon bombing of October 9, 1983, was an assassination attempt against Chun Doo-hwan, the then-President of South Korea, allegedly orchestrated by North Korea. Two of the bombers were captured, one of whom confessed to being a North Korean military officer.-Bombing:On October 9, 1983,...

 and the destruction of a South Korean airliner
Korean Air Flight 858
Korean Air Flight 858 was a scheduled international passenger flight between Baghdad, Iraq, and Seoul, South Korea that exploded in mid-air on 29 November 1987 after two North Korean agents planted a bomb in the passenger cabin...

 have been attributed to North Korea. North Korea has also admitted responsibility for the kidnapping of 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s
North Korean abductions of Japanese
The abductions of Japanese citizens from Japan by agents of the North Korean government happened during a period of six years from 1977 to 1983. Although only 17 Japanese are officially recognized by the Japanese government as having been abducted, there may have been as many as 70 to 80...

, five of whom were returned to Japan in 2002. On October 11, 2008, the United States removed North Korea from its list of states that sponsor terrorism.

In 2009, relationships between North and South Korea increased in intensity; North Korea had been reported to have deployed missiles, ended its former agreements with South Korea, and threatened South Korea and the United States not to interfere with a satellite launch it had planned.
North and South Korea are still technically at war (having never signed a peace treaty after the Korean War) and share the world’s most heavily fortified border. On May 27, 2009, North Korean media declared that the Korean Armistice was no longer valid due to the South Korean government's pledge to "definitely join" the Proliferation Security Initiative
Proliferation Security Initiative
The Proliferation Security Initiative is a global effort that aims to stop trafficking of weapons of mass destruction , their delivery systems, and related materials to and from states and non-state actors of proliferation concern. Launched by United States President George W...

. To further complicate and intensify strains between the two nations, the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan
ROKS Cheonan sinking
The ROKS Cheonan sinking occurred on 26 March 2010, when the Cheonan, a South Korean Navy ship carrying 104 personnel, sank off the country's west coast near Baengnyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, killing 46 seamen...

 in March 2010, killing 46 seamen, is as of May 20, 2010 claimed by a multi-national research team to have been caused by a North Korean torpedo, which the North denies. South Korea agreed with the findings from the research group and President Lee Myung-bak declared in May 2010 that Seoul would cut all trade with North Korea as part of measures primarily aimed at striking back at North Korea diplomatically and financially. As a result of this, North Korea severed all ties, completely abrogated the previous pact of non aggression and expelled all South Koreans from a joint industrial zone in Kaesong
Kaesong Industrial Region
Kaesŏng Industrial Region is a special administrative industrial region of North Korea. It was formed in 2002 from part of Kaesŏng Directly Governed City.-Kaesŏng Industrial Park:...

. On November 23, 2010, North Korea attacked Yeonpyeong Island, further deteriorating the diplomatic relations with the South and other nations.

Most of the foreign embassies connecting with diplomatic ties to North Korea are situated in Beijing rather than Pyongyang.

Military


The Korean People's Army
Korean People's Army
The Korean People's Army , also known as the Inmin Gun, are the military forces of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Kim Jong-il is the Supreme Commander of the Korean People's Army and Chairman of the National Defence Commission...

 (KPA) is the name for the collective armed personnel of the North Korean military. It has five branches: Ground Force, Naval Force, Air Force, Special Operations Force, and Rocket Force
Artillery Guidance Bureau
The Artillery Guidance Bureau , also known as Missile Guidance Bureau is the strategic missile forces of North Korea. The AGB is a major division of the Korean People's Army that controls North Korea's nuclear and conventional strategic missiles...

. According to the U.S. Department of State
United States Department of State
The United States Department of State , is the United States federal executive department responsible for international relations of the United States, equivalent to the foreign ministries of other countries...

, North Korea has the fourth-largest army
Army
An army An army An army (from Latin arma "arms, weapons" via Old French armée, "armed" (feminine), in the broadest sense, is the land-based military of a nation or state. It may also include other branches of the military such as the air force via means of aviation corps...

 in the world, at an estimated 1.21 million armed personnel, with about 20% of men aged 17–54 in the regular armed forces. North Korea has the highest percentage of military personnel per capita of any nation in the world, with approximately one enlisted soldier for every 25 citizens.
Military strategy is designed for insertion of agents and sabotage behind enemy lines in wartime, with much of the KPA's forces deployed along the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone
Korean Demilitarized Zone
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and...

. The Korean People's Army operates a very large amount of equipment, including 4,060 tank
Tank
A tank is a tracked, armoured fighting vehicle designed for front-line combat which combines operational mobility, tactical offensive, and defensive capabilities...

s, 2,500 APCs
Armoured personnel carrier
An armoured personnel carrier is an armoured fighting vehicle designed to transport infantry to the battlefield.APCs are usually armed with only a machine gun although variants carry recoilless rifles, anti-tank guided missiles , or mortars...

, 17,900 artillery
Artillery
Originally applied to any group of infantry primarily armed with projectile weapons, artillery has over time become limited in meaning to refer only to those engines of war that operate by projection of munitions far beyond the range of effect of personal weapons...

 pieces, 11,000 air defence guns and some 10,000 MANPADS and anti-tank guided missile
Anti-tank guided missile
An anti-tank missile , anti-tank guided missile , anti-tank guided weapon or anti-armor guided weapon is a guided missile primarily designed to hit and destroy heavily-armored military vehicles....

s in the Ground force; at least 915 vessels in the Navy and 1,748 aircraft in the Air Force, of which 478 are fighters and 180 are bombers. North Korea also has the largest special forces in the world, as well as the largest submarine
Submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 fleet. The equipment is a mixture of World War II vintage vehicles and small arms, widely proliferated Cold War technology, and more modern Soviet or locally produced weapons. In line with its asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare
Asymmetric warfare is war between belligerents whose relative military power differs significantly, or whose strategy or tactics differ significantly....

 strategy, North Korea has also developed a wide range of unconventional techniques and equipment, such as GPS jammers, stealth
Stealth technology
Stealth technology also termed LO technology is a sub-discipline of military tactics and passive electronic countermeasures, which cover a range of techniques used with personnel, aircraft, ships, submarines, and missiles, to make them less visible to radar, infrared, sonar and other detection...

 paint, midget submarine
Midget submarine
A midget submarine is any submarine under 150 tons, typically operated by a crew of one or two but sometimes up to 6 or 8, with little or no on-board living accommodation...

s and human torpedo
Human torpedo
Human torpedoes or manned torpedoes are a type of rideable submarine used as secret naval weapons in World War II. The basic design is still in use today; they are a type of diver propulsion vehicle....

es, a vast array of chemical and biological weapons, and anti-personnel lasers. According to official North Korean media, military expenditures for 2010 amount to 15.8% of the state budget.

North Korea has active nuclear and ballistic missile weapons programs and has been subject to United Nations Security Council resolutions 1695
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1695
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1695, adopted unanimously on July 15, 2006, after recalling resolutions 825 and 1540 concerning North Korea and the non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction respectively, the Council banned the selling of material that would further the ability...

 of July 2006, 1718
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1718 was adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council on October 14, 2006. The resolution, passed under Chapter VII, Article 41, of the UN Charter, imposes a series of economic and commercial sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of...

 of October 2006, and 1874
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874
United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874 was adopted unanimously by the United Nations Security Council on 12 June 2009. The resolution, passed under Chapter VII, Article 41, of the UN Charter, imposes further economic and commercial sanctions on the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ...

 of June 2009, for carrying out both missile and nuclear tests. North Korea probably has fissile material for up to nine nuclear weapons, and has the capability to deploy nuclear warheads on intermediate-range ballistic missile
Intermediate-range ballistic missile
An intermediate-range ballistic missile is a ballistic missile with a range of 3,000–5,500 km , between a medium-range ballistic missile and an intercontinental ballistic missile...

s.

Economy



North Korea has an industrialised, near-autarkic
Autarky
Autarky is the quality of being self-sufficient. Usually the term is applied to political states or their economic policies. Autarky exists whenever an entity can survive or continue its activities without external assistance. Autarky is not necessarily economic. For example, a military autarky...

, highly centralized command economy. Of the five remaining Communist states in the world, North Korea is one of only two (along with Cuba
Cuba
The Republic of Cuba is an island nation in the Caribbean. The nation of Cuba consists of the main island of Cuba, the Isla de la Juventud, and several archipelagos. Havana is the largest city in Cuba and the country's capital. Santiago de Cuba is the second largest city...

) with an almost entirely government-planned, state-owned economy. The Central Planning Committee prepares, supervises and implements economic plans, while a General Bureau of Provincial Industry in each region is responsible for the management of local manufacturing facilities, production, resource allocation and sales.

North Korea's isolation policy means that international trade
International trade
International trade is the exchange of capital, goods, and services across international borders or territories. In most countries, such trade represents a significant share of gross domestic product...

 is highly restricted. North Korea passed a law in 1984 allowing for foreign investment through joint ventures, but failed to attract any significant investment. In 1991, it established the Rason Economic Special Zone
Rajin-Sonbong Economic Special Zone
The Rajin-Sonbong Economic Special Zone was established by the North Korean government near Rason to promote economic growth through foreign investment. It is similar to the Special Economic Zone setup by the People's Republic of China and elsewhere to pilot market economics in a designated...

, in an attempt to attract foreign investment from China
China
Chinese civilization may refer to:* China for more general discussion of the country.* Chinese culture* Greater China, the transnational community of ethnic Chinese.* History of China* Sinosphere, the area historically affected by Chinese culture...

 and Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

. Chinese and Russian companies have purchased rights to use the ports at Rason. Chinese investors are renovating a road from Rason to China, and Russian railway workers are renovating the railway from Rason to Russia, from where it continues onto the Trans-Siberian Railway
Trans-Siberian Railway
The Trans-Siberian Railway is a network of railways connecting Moscow with the Russian Far East and the Sea of Japan. It is the longest railway in the world...

.

Until 1998, the United Nations published HDI
Human Development Index
The Human Development Index is a composite statistic used to rank countries by level of "human development" and separate "very high human development", "high human development", "medium human development", and "low human development" countries...

 and GDP per capita figures for North Korea, which stood at a medium level of human development at 0.766 (ranked 75th) and a GDP per capita of $4,058. The average salary was about $47 per month in 2004.
The average official salary in 2011 was equivalent to $2 per month while the actual monthly income seems to be around $15 because most North Koreans earn money in illegal small businesses: trade, subsistence farming, and handicrafts. The illegal economy is dominated by women because men have to attend their places of official work even though most of the factories are non-functioning. It is estimated that in the early 2000s, the average North Korean family drew some 80% of its income from small businesses that are legal in market economies but illegal in North Korea.

Despite substantial economic problems, quality of life was improving and wages were rising steadily in 2007. Small-scale private markets, known as janmadang, exist throughout the country and provide the population with imported food and commodities ranging from cosmetics to motorcycles in exchange for money. In 2009, the government carried out a currency redenomination with the aim to curb free market activity across the country, but the attempt failed, causing inflation
Inflation
In economics, inflation is a rise in the general level of prices of goods and services in an economy over a period of time.When the general price level rises, each unit of currency buys fewer goods and services. Consequently, inflation also reflects an erosion in the purchasing power of money – a...

 rates to skyrocket, and eventually led to the lifting of the ban on free market trade.

Food rations, housing, healthcare, and education are offered from the state for free, and the payment of taxes has been abolished since April 1, 1974. In order to increase productivity from agriculture and industry, since the 1960s the North Korean government has introduced a number of management systems such as the Taean work system. In the 21st century, North Korea's GDP growth has been slow but steady, although in recent years, growth has gradually accelerated to 3.7% in 2008, the fastest pace in almost a decade, largely due to a sharp growth of 8.2% in the agricultural sector.
GDP Growth by year
2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009
1.3% 3.7% 1.2% 1.8% 2.2% 1.0% 1.6% 1.8% 3.7% 3.7%


Based on estimates in 2002, the dominant sector in the North Korean economy is industry (43.1%), followed by services (33.6%) and agriculture (23.3%). In 2004, it was estimated that agriculture employed 37% of the workforce while industry and services employed the remaining 63%. Major industries include military products, machine building, electric power, chemicals, mining, metallurgy, textiles, food processing and tourism. Iron ore and coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 production are among the few sectors where North Korea performs significantly better than its southern neighbour - the DPRK produces about 10 times larger amounts of each resource.

Rice yields are about 2.8 tonnes per hectare, about half that in most countries, with soil degradation, lack of fertilisers and limited mechanisation blamed. In 2005, North Korea was ranked by the FAO
Fão
Fão is a town in Esposende Municipality in Portugal....

 as an estimated 10th in the production of fresh fruit and as an estimated 19th in the production of apple
Apple
The apple is the pomaceous fruit of the apple tree, species Malus domestica in the rose family . It is one of the most widely cultivated tree fruits, and the most widely known of the many members of genus Malus that are used by humans. Apple grow on small, deciduous trees that blossom in the spring...

s. It has substantial natural resources and is the world's 18th largest producer of iron and zinc, having the 22nd largest coal
Coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

 reserves in the world. It is also the 15th largest fluorite producer and 12th largest producer of copper and salt in Asia. Other major natural resources in production include lead
Lead
Lead is a main-group element in the carbon group with the symbol Pb and atomic number 82. Lead is a soft, malleable poor metal. It is also counted as one of the heavy metals. Metallic lead has a bluish-white color after being freshly cut, but it soon tarnishes to a dull grayish color when exposed...

, tungsten
Tungsten
Tungsten , also known as wolfram , is a chemical element with the chemical symbol W and atomic number 74.A hard, rare metal under standard conditions when uncombined, tungsten is found naturally on Earth only in chemical compounds. It was identified as a new element in 1781, and first isolated as...

, graphite
Graphite
The mineral graphite is one of the allotropes of carbon. It was named by Abraham Gottlob Werner in 1789 from the Ancient Greek γράφω , "to draw/write", for its use in pencils, where it is commonly called lead . Unlike diamond , graphite is an electrical conductor, a semimetal...

, magnesite
Magnesite
Magnesite is magnesium carbonate, MgCO3. Iron substitutes for magnesium with a complete solution series with siderite, FeCO3. Calcium, manganese, cobalt, and nickel may also occur in small amounts...

, gold
Gold
Gold is a chemical element with the symbol Au and an atomic number of 79. Gold is a dense, soft, shiny, malleable and ductile metal. Pure gold has a bright yellow color and luster traditionally considered attractive, which it maintains without oxidizing in air or water. Chemically, gold is a...

, pyrites, fluorspar, and hydropower
Hydropower
Hydropower, hydraulic power, hydrokinetic power or water power is power that is derived from the force or energy of falling water, which may be harnessed for useful purposes. Since ancient times, hydropower has been used for irrigation and the operation of various mechanical devices, such as...

.

Private commerce




In 1991, North Korea started experimenting with private capitalism in the Rajin-Sonbong Economic Special Zone
Rajin-Sonbong Economic Special Zone
The Rajin-Sonbong Economic Special Zone was established by the North Korean government near Rason to promote economic growth through foreign investment. It is similar to the Special Economic Zone setup by the People's Republic of China and elsewhere to pilot market economics in a designated...

, and in 2002 also set up the Kaesong Industrial Region
Kaesong Industrial Region
Kaesŏng Industrial Region is a special administrative industrial region of North Korea. It was formed in 2002 from part of Kaesŏng Directly Governed City.-Kaesŏng Industrial Park:...

. A small number of other areas have been designated as Special Administrative Regions. China and South Korea are the biggest trade partners of North Korea, with trade with China increasing 15% to US$1.6 billion in 2005, and trade with South Korea increasing 50% to over 1 billion for the first time in 2005. China is North Korea's closest economic partner, with 73% of North Korea's foreign trade being conducted with this country.

In 2000, Centre for the Study of the Capitalist System was established. Increasingly more foreign-invested joint ventures have been set up since 2002. The Pyongyang Business School was established by the Swiss government to help teach students business management.

A small number of capitalistic elements are gradually spreading from the trial area, including a number of advertising billboards along certain highways. Recent visitors have reported that the number of open-air farmers' markets has increased in Kaesong
Kaesong
Kaesŏng is a city in North Hwanghae Province, southern North Korea , a former Directly Governed City, and the capital of Korea during the Koryo Dynasty. The city is near Kaesŏng Industrial Region and it contains the remains of the Manwoldae palace. It was formally named Songdo while it was the...

 and Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

, as well as along the China-North Korea border, bypassing the food rationing system.
In addition to food aid, China reportedly provides an estimated 80 to 90 percent of North Korea's oil imports at "friendly prices" that are sharply lower than the world market price.

North Korea also has a cartoon animation industry, sub-contracting work from South Korean animation studios.

Tourism




Tourism in North Korea is organized by the state owned Korea International Travel Company. Every group of travelers as well as individual tourists/visitors is permanently accompanied by one or two "guides" who normally speak the mother language of the tourist. While tourism has increased over the last few years, tourists from Western countries remain few.

The majority of the tourists who visit come from China, Russia, and Japan. Russian citizens from the Asian part of Russia prefer North Korea as a tourist destination due to the relatively low prices, lack of pollution and the warmer climate. For citizens of South Korea, it is practically impossible to obtain a visa
Visa (document)
A visa is a document showing that a person is authorized to enter the territory for which it was issued, subject to permission of an immigration official at the time of actual entry. The authorization may be a document, but more commonly it is a stamp endorsed in the applicant's passport...

 for North Korea; however, they can still obtain "entry permits" to special tourist areas designated for South Koreans, such as Kaesong. US citizens were also subject to visa restrictions, only able to visit during the yearly Arirang Festival
Arirang Festival
The Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance Arirang are held in the Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea...

. These restrictions were lifted in January 2010, yet currently fewer than 2,500 U.S. citizens have visited North Korea since 1953.

In the area of the Kŭmgangsan
Kumgangsan
Kŭmgangsan , Geumgangsan, or Mount Geumgang is a -high mountain in Kangwon-do, North Korea. Its name means "a firm heart in the face of truth". It is about 50 km away from South Korea's Sokcho in Gangwon-do. It is one of the best-known mountains in North Korea...

-mountains, the company Hyundai
Hyundai
Hyundai ) is a global conglomerate company, part of the Korean chaebol, that was founded in South Korea by one of the most famous businessmen in Korean history: Chung Ju-yung...

 established and operates a special Tourist area. Traveling to this area is also possible for South Koreans and US citizens, but only in organized groups from South Korea. A special administrative region known as the Kŭmgangsan Tourist Region
Kumgangsan Tourist Region
The Kŭmgangsan Tourist Region is a special administrative region of North Korea. It was established in 2002 to handle South Korean tourist traffic to Kŭmgangsan ....

 exists for this purpose. However, trips to the region were suspended after a South Korean woman who wandered into a controlled military zone was shot dead by border guards in late 2008. When tours had still not resumed by May 2010, North Korea unilaterally announced that it would seize South Korean real estate assets in the region.

Famine



In the 1990s North Korea faced significant economic disruptions, including a series of natural disasters, economic mismanagement and serious resource shortages after the collapse of the Eastern Bloc
Eastern bloc
The term Eastern Bloc or Communist Bloc refers to the former communist states of Eastern and Central Europe, generally the Soviet Union and the countries of the Warsaw Pact...

. These resulted in a shortfall of staple grain
Cereal
Cereals are grasses cultivated for the edible components of their grain , composed of the endosperm, germ, and bran...

 output of more than 1 million tons from what the country needs to meet internationally accepted minimum dietary requirements. The North Korean famine
North Korean famine
'The North Korean famine was a famine in North Korea which began in the early 1990s...

 known as "Arduous March" resulted in the deaths of between 300,000 and 800,000 North Koreans per year during the three year famine, peaking in 1997. The deaths were most likely caused by famine-related illnesses such as pneumonia
Pneumonia
Pneumonia is an inflammatory condition of the lung—especially affecting the microscopic air sacs —associated with fever, chest symptoms, and a lack of air space on a chest X-ray. Pneumonia is typically caused by an infection but there are a number of other causes...

, tuberculosis
Tuberculosis
Tuberculosis, MTB, or TB is a common, and in many cases lethal, infectious disease caused by various strains of mycobacteria, usually Mycobacterium tuberculosis. Tuberculosis usually attacks the lungs but can also affect other parts of the body...

, and diarrhea
Diarrhea
Diarrhea , also spelled diarrhoea, is the condition of having three or more loose or liquid bowel movements per day. It is a common cause of death in developing countries and the second most common cause of infant deaths worldwide. The loss of fluids through diarrhea can cause dehydration and...

 rather than starvation
Starvation
Starvation is a severe deficiency in caloric energy, nutrient and vitamin intake. It is the most extreme form of malnutrition. In humans, prolonged starvation can cause permanent organ damage and eventually, death...

.

In 2006, Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 reported that a national nutrition survey conducted by the North Korean government, the World Food Programme
World Food Programme
The World Food Programme is the food aid branch of the United Nations, and the world's largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger worldwide. WFP provides food, on average, to 90 million people per year, 58 million of whom are children...

, and UNICEF
United Nations Children's Fund
United Nations Children's Fund was created by the United Nations General Assembly on December 11, 1946, to provide emergency food and healthcare to children in countries that had been devastated by World War II...

 found that 7% of children were severely malnourished
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess , or in the wrong proportions....

; 37% were chronically malnourished; 23.4% were underweight; and one in three mothers was malnourished and anaemic
Anemia
Anemia is a decrease in number of red blood cells or less than the normal quantity of hemoglobin in the blood. However, it can include decreased oxygen-binding ability of each hemoglobin molecule due to deformity or lack in numerical development as in some other types of hemoglobin...

 as the result of the lingering effect of the famine. The inflation caused by some of the 2002 economic reforms, including the Songun or "Military-first" policy
Songun
Sŏn'gun, often spelled Songun, is North Korea's "Military First" policy, which prioritizes the Korean People's Army in the affairs of state and allocates national resources to the army first...

, was cited for creating the increased price of basic foods.

The history of Japanese assistance to North Korea has been marked with challenges; from a large pro-Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

 community of Koreans in Japan to public outrage over the 1998 North Korean missile launch and revelations regarding the abduction of Japanese citizens. In June 1995 an agreement was reached that the two countries would act jointly. South Korea would provide 150,000 MT of grain in unmarked bags, and Japan would provide 150,000 MT gratis and another 150,000 MT on concessional terms. In October 1995 and January 1996, North Korea again approached Japan for assistance. On these two occasions, both of which came at crucial moments in the evolution of the famine, opposition from both South Korea and domestic political sources quashed the deals.

Beginning in 1997, the U.S. began shipping food aid to North Korea through the United Nations World Food Programme
World Food Programme
The World Food Programme is the food aid branch of the United Nations, and the world's largest humanitarian organization addressing hunger worldwide. WFP provides food, on average, to 90 million people per year, 58 million of whom are children...

 (WFP) to combat the famine. Shipments peaked in 1999 at nearly 700,000 tons making the U.S. the largest foreign aid donor to the country at the time. Under the Bush Administration, aid was drastically reduced year after year from 350,000 tons in 2001 to 40,000 in 2004. The Bush Administration took criticism for using "food as a weapon" during talks over the North's nuclear weapons program, but insisted the U.S. Agency for International Development
United States Agency for International Development
The United States Agency for International Development is the United States federal government agency primarily responsible for administering civilian foreign aid. President John F. Kennedy created USAID in 1961 by executive order to implement development assistance programs in the areas...

 (USAID) criteria were the same for all countries and the situation in North Korea had "improved significantly since its collapse in the mid-1990s." Agricultural production had increased from about 2.7 million metric tons
Tonne
The tonne, known as the metric ton in the US , often put pleonastically as "metric tonne" to avoid confusion with ton, is a metric system unit of mass equal to 1000 kilograms. The tonne is not an International System of Units unit, but is accepted for use with the SI...

 in 1997 to 4.2 million metric tons in 2004.

Media and Telecommunications


Media


North Korean media are under one of the strictest government controls in the world. The North Korean constitution provides for freedom of speech
Freedom of speech
Freedom of speech is the freedom to speak freely without censorship. The term freedom of expression is sometimes used synonymously, but includes any act of seeking, receiving and imparting information or ideas, regardless of the medium used...

 and the press
Freedom of the press
Freedom of the press or freedom of the media is the freedom of communication and expression through vehicles including various electronic media and published materials...

; however, the government prohibits the exercise of these rights in practice. In its 2010 report, Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders
Reporters Without Borders is a France-based international non-governmental organization that advocates freedom of the press. It was founded in 1985, by Robert Ménard, Rony Brauman and the journalist Jean-Claude Guillebaud. Jean-François Julliard has served as Secretary General since 2008...

 ranked the freedom of the press in North Korea as 177th out of 178, above only that of Eritrea
Eritrea
Eritrea , officially the State of Eritrea, is a country in the Horn of Africa. Eritrea derives it's name from the Greek word Erethria, meaning 'red land'. The capital is Asmara. It is bordered by Sudan in the west, Ethiopia in the south, and Djibouti in the southeast...

. Only news that favors the regime is permitted, while news that covers the economic and political problems in the country, or criticisms of the regime from abroad, is not allowed. The media upholds the personality cult of Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il, also written as Kim Jong Il, birth name Yuri Irsenovich Kim born 16 February 1941 or 16 February 1942 , is the Supreme Leader of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea...

, regularly reporting on his daily activities. The main news provider to media in the DPRK is the Korean Central News Agency
Korean Central News Agency
The Korean Central News Agency is the state news agency of North Korea and has existed since December 5, 1946. KCNA is headquartered in the capital city of Pyongyang...

.

North Korea has 12 principal newspapers and 20 major periodicals, all of varying periodicity and all published in Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

. Newspapers include the Rodong Sinmun
Rodong Sinmun
Rodong Sinmun is a North Korean newspaper and the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, published by the Rodong News Agency. It is the most widely read newspaper in the country...

, Joson Inmingun, Minju Choson, and Rodongja Sinmum. No private press exists.

Telephones and Internet


North Korea has an adequate telephone system, with 1.18 million fixed lines available in 2008. However, most phones are only installed for senior government officials. If one wants a phone installed, they would need to fill out a form indicating their rank, why they want a phone and how they will pay for it.
The number of mobile phones in Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

 rose from only 3,000 in 2002 to approximately 20,000 during 2004. In June 2004, however, mobile phones were forbidden again, until a new 3G
3G
3G or 3rd generation mobile telecommunications is a generation of standards for mobile phones and mobile telecommunication services fulfilling the International Mobile Telecommunications-2000 specifications by the International Telecommunication Union...

 network, Koryolink
Koryolink
Koryolink , a joint venture between Egyptian company Orascom Telecom Holding and the state-owned Korea Post and Telecommunications Corporation , is North Korea's only mobile operator. According to Orascom quoted in BusinessWeek, the company had 125,661 subscribers in May 2010. By March 2011, the...

, was built in 2008 through a joint venture with Orascom Telecom Holding
Orascom Telecom Holding
Orascom Telecom Holding S.A.E. is a leading international telecommunications company operating GSM networks in the Middle East, Africa, Canada and Asia. It started its operations in Egypt by launching the first egyptian mobile operator in 1998, ....

 of Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

. In May 2010, over 120,000 North Koreans owned a mobile phone, and by September the same year the number of subscribers increased more than twice, reaching 301,000 people. By August 2011, the number of mobile phone subscribers had increased to 660,000 users.

North Korea's first Internet café
Internet cafe
An Internet café or cybercafé is a place which provides internet access to the public, usually for a fee. These businesses usually provide snacks and drinks, hence the café in the name...

 opened in 2002 as a joint venture with South Korean internet company Hoonnet. Ordinary North Koreans do not have access to the global Internet network, but are provided with a nationwide, public use Intranet service called Kwangmyong, which features domestic news, an e-mail
E-mail
Electronic mail, commonly known as email or e-mail, is a method of exchanging digital messages from an author to one or more recipients. Modern email operates across the Internet or other computer networks. Some early email systems required that the author and the recipient both be online at the...

 service and censored information from foreign websites (mostly scientific).

Transportation


Two of the few ways to enter North Korea are over the Sino-Korea Friendship Bridge
Sino-Korea Friendship Bridge
The Sino-Korea, Sino-Korean, or China-North Korea Friendship Bridge connects the cities of Dandong, China and Sinŭiju, North Korea. It was constructed by the imperial Japanese between April 1937 and May 1943, during their reign over Korea and Manchukuo, to span the Yalu River...

 or via Panmunjeom
Panmunjeom
Panmunjom, located in Gyeonggi Province, is a village on the de facto border between North and South Korea, where the 1953 Korean Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War was signed. The building where the armistice was signed still stands, though it is on the northern side of the Military...

, the former crossing the Amnok River
Yalu River
The Yalu River or the Amnok River is a river on the border between North Korea and the People's Republic of China....

 and the latter crossing the Demilitarized Zone
Korean Demilitarized Zone
The Korean Demilitarized Zone is a strip of land running across the Korean Peninsula that serves as a buffer zone between North and South Korea. The DMZ cuts the Korean Peninsula roughly in half, crossing the 38th parallel on an angle, with the west end of the DMZ lying south of the parallel and...

.

On October 13, 2011 a train from the Russian border town of Khasan
Khasan
Khasan is an urban locality in Khasansky District of Primorsky Krai, Russia. Population: Khasan is the only Russian settlement on the border with North Korea. It lies near Lake Khasan and the Tumen River...

 made an inaugural run to Rajin in North Korea. It run a 54-kilometer along a newly repaired link of reconstruction all the Trans-Korean rail for its further integration into the Trans-Siberian railroad.

Private cars in North Korea are a rare sight, but some 70% of households used bicycle
Bicycle
A bicycle, also known as a bike, pushbike or cycle, is a human-powered, pedal-driven, single-track vehicle, having two wheels attached to a frame, one behind the other. A person who rides a bicycle is called a cyclist, or bicyclist....

s, which also play an increasingly important role in small-scale private trade. Very few cars and light trucks are made in a joint-venture between Pyeonghwa Motors of South Korea, and the North Korean Ryonbong General Corp
Ryonbong
Ryonbong General Corp. is North Korean Government-owned corporation, and its purpose is the export of metals, minerals and machines. It has branch offices in many countries...

 at a facility in Nampo
Nampo
Namp'o is a city and seaport in South P'yŏngan Province, North Korea. It was a provincial-level Directly Governed City from 1980 to 2004, when it was designated a "Special City" and made a part of South P'yŏngan...

 North Korea. Another local producer of vehicles is Sungri Motor Plant
Sungri Motor Plant
Sungri Motor Plant is a 600,000m2 vehicle factory opened in November 1950 as the Tokchon Motor Plant in the city of Tokchon , North Korea. In 1975, it was renamed Sungri Motor Plant . It is most powerful plant of North Korean automotive industry...

, which manufactures civilian vehicles and heavy trucks.

There is a mix of locally built and imported trolleybuses and trams in urban centers in North Korea. Earlier fleets were obtained in Europe and China, but the trade embargo has forced North Korea to build their own vehicles.

Rail transport


Choson Cul Minzuzui Inmingonghoagug is the only rail operator in North Korea. It has a network of 5200 km (3,231.1 mi) of track with 4500 km (2,796.2 mi) in standard gauge
Standard gauge
The standard gauge is a widely-used track gauge . Approximately 60% of the world's existing railway lines are built to this gauge...

. There is a small narrow gauge railway in operation in Haeju peninsula. The railway fleet consists of a mix of electric and steam locomotives. Cars are mostly made in North Korea using Soviet and Chinese designs. There are some locomotives from Imperial Japan, the United States, and Europe remaining in use. Second-hand Chinese locomotives (early DF4Bs, BJ Hydraulics, etc.) have also been spotted in active service.


People traveling from the capital Pyongyang to other regions in North Korea typically travel by rail. But in order to travel out of Pyongyang, people need an official travel certificate, ID, and a purchased ticket in advance. Due to lack of maintenance on the infrastructure and vehicles, the travel time by rail is increasing. It has been reported that the 120 mile (193 km) trip from Pyongyang to Kaesong
Kaesong
Kaesŏng is a city in North Hwanghae Province, southern North Korea , a former Directly Governed City, and the capital of Korea during the Koryo Dynasty. The city is near Kaesŏng Industrial Region and it contains the remains of the Manwoldae palace. It was formally named Songdo while it was the...

 can take up to 6 hours.

Marine transport



Water transport on the major rivers and along the coasts plays a growing role in freight and passenger traffic. Except for the Yalu and Taedong rivers, most of the inland waterways, totaling 2253 kilometres (1,400 mi), are navigable only by small boats. Coastal traffic is heaviest on the eastern seaboard, whose deeper waters can accommodate larger vessels. The major ports are Nampho on the west coast and Rajin, Chongjin
Chongjin
Ch'ŏngjin is the capital of North Korea's North Hamgyŏng Province and the country's third largest city. From 1960 to 1967 and again from 1977 to 1985, Ch'ŏngjin was administered separately from North Hamgyŏng as a Directly Governed City...

, Wonsan
Wonsan
Wŏnsan is a port city and naval base in southeastern North Korea. It is the capital of Kangwŏn Province. The population of the city is estimated to have been 331,000 in 2000. Notable people from Wŏnsan include Kim Ki Nam, diplomat and Secretary of the Workers' Party.- History :The original name of...

, and Hamhung
Hamhung
Hamhŭng is North Korea's second largest city, and the capital of South Hamgyŏng Province. In late 2005, nearby Hŭngnam was made a ward within Hamhŭng-si. It has a population of 768,551 as of 2008.-Geography:...

 on the east coast. The country's harbor loading capacity in the 1990s was estimated at almost 35 million tons a year.

In the early 1990s, North Korea possessed an oceangoing merchant fleet, largely domestically produced, of sixty-eight ships (of at least 1,000 gross-registered tons), totaling 465,801 gross-registered tons , which includes fifty-eight cargo ships and two tankers. There is a continuing investment in upgrading and expanding port facilities, developing transportation—particularly on the Taedong River—and increasing the share of international cargo by domestic vessels.

Air transport


North Korea's international air connections are limited. There are regularly scheduled flights from the Sunan International Airport
Sunan International Airport
-Cargo destinations:-Facilities:The airport contains a car park, a business centre, disabled facilities, a duty free shop, Business Class lounge, a taxi stand, a Korea Trade Bank, and several souvenir shops. The airport also has a baggage storage facility; service hours are from 08:00 to 21:00 and...

 – 24 kilometres (14.9 mi) north of Pyongyang – to Moscow
Moscow
Moscow is the capital, the most populous city, and the most populous federal subject of Russia. The city is a major political, economic, cultural, scientific, religious, financial, educational, and transportation centre of Russia and the continent...

, Khabarovsk
Khabarovsk
Khabarovsk is the largest city and the administrative center of Khabarovsk Krai, Russia. It is located some from the Chinese border. It is the second largest city in the Russian Far East, after Vladivostok. The city became the administrative center of the Far Eastern Federal District of Russia...

, Vladivostok
Vladivostok
The city is located in the southern extremity of Muravyov-Amursky Peninsula, which is about 30 km long and approximately 12 km wide.The highest point is Mount Kholodilnik, the height of which is 257 m...

, Bangkok
Bangkok
Bangkok is the capital and largest urban area city in Thailand. It is known in Thai as Krung Thep Maha Nakhon or simply Krung Thep , meaning "city of angels." The full name of Bangkok is Krung Thep Mahanakhon Amon Rattanakosin Mahintharayutthaya Mahadilok Phop Noppharat Ratchathani Burirom...

, Beijing
Beijing
Beijing , also known as Peking , is the capital of the People's Republic of China and one of the most populous cities in the world, with a population of 19,612,368 as of 2010. The city is the country's political, cultural, and educational center, and home to the headquarters for most of China's...

, Dalian
Dalian
Dalian is a major city and seaport in the south of Liaoning province, Northeast China. It faces Shandong to the south, the Yellow Sea to the east and the Bohai Sea to the west and south. Holding sub-provincial administrative status, Dalian is the southernmost city of Northeast China and China's...

, Shanghai
Shanghai
Shanghai is the largest city by population in China and the largest city proper in the world. It is one of the four province-level municipalities in the People's Republic of China, with a total population of over 23 million as of 2010...

, Shenyang
Shenyang
Shenyang , or Mukden , is the capital and largest city of Liaoning Province in Northeast China. Currently holding sub-provincial administrative status, the city was once known as Shengjing or Fengtianfu...

 along with seasonal services to Singapore
Singapore
Singapore , officially the Republic of Singapore, is a Southeast Asian city-state off the southern tip of the Malay Peninsula, north of the equator. An island country made up of 63 islands, it is separated from Malaysia by the Straits of Johor to its north and from Indonesia's Riau Islands by the...

 and charter flights from Sunan to numerous Asian and European destinations including Tokyo and Nagoya. Regular charters to existing scheduled services are operated as per demand. An agreement to initiate a service between Pyongyang and Tokyo was signed in 1990. Internal flights are available between Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

, Hamhung
Hamhung
Hamhŭng is North Korea's second largest city, and the capital of South Hamgyŏng Province. In late 2005, nearby Hŭngnam was made a ward within Hamhŭng-si. It has a population of 768,551 as of 2008.-Geography:...

, Haeju
Haeju
Haeju is a city located in South Hwanghae Province near Haeju Bay in North Korea. It is the administrative centre of South Hwanghae Province. As of 2000, the population of the city is estimated to be 236,000. At the beginning of 20th century, it became a strategic port in Sino-Korean trade...

, Kaesong
Kaesong
Kaesŏng is a city in North Hwanghae Province, southern North Korea , a former Directly Governed City, and the capital of Korea during the Koryo Dynasty. The city is near Kaesŏng Industrial Region and it contains the remains of the Manwoldae palace. It was formally named Songdo while it was the...

, Kanggye
Kanggye
Kanggye is the provincial capital of Chagang, North Korea and has a population of 209,000. Because of its strategic importance, derived from its topography, it has been of military interest from the time of the Joseon Dynasty .-Geography:...

, Kilju
Kilju
Kilju , in English also known as sugar wine, is a Finnish home-made alcoholic beverage made from sugar, yeast, and water. Its alcohol content is usually 15%–17% ABV....

, Nampo
Nampo
Namp'o is a city and seaport in South P'yŏngan Province, North Korea. It was a provincial-level Directly Governed City from 1980 to 2004, when it was designated a "Special City" and made a part of South P'yŏngan...

, Sinuiju
Sinuiju
Sinŭiju is a city in North Korea, neighboring with Dandong City, China via international border and is the capital of North P'yŏngan Province...

, Samjiyon
Samjiyon
Samjiyŏn, or Samjiyŏn-kun, is a district in Ryanggang province, North Korea. It has its own airport. It takes its name from three lakes in the county, which are known as the Samjiyŏn...

, Wonsan
Wonsan
Wŏnsan is a port city and naval base in southeastern North Korea. It is the capital of Kangwŏn Province. The population of the city is estimated to have been 331,000 in 2000. Notable people from Wŏnsan include Kim Ki Nam, diplomat and Secretary of the Workers' Party.- History :The original name of...

, and Chongjin
Chongjin
Ch'ŏngjin is the capital of North Korea's North Hamgyŏng Province and the country's third largest city. From 1960 to 1967 and again from 1977 to 1985, Ch'ŏngjin was administered separately from North Hamgyŏng as a Directly Governed City...

.

All civil aircraft are operated by Air Koryo
Air Koryo
Air Koryo ) is the state-owned national flag carrier airline of North Korea, headquartered in Sunan-guyŏk, Pyongyang. Based at Sunan International Airport , it operates international scheduled and charter services to points in Asia and Europe....

: 38 aircraft in 2010, which were purchased from the Soviet Union and Russia. From 1976 to 1978, four Tu-154 jets were added to the 7 of propeller-driven An-24s and 2 Ilyushin Il-18's afterwards adding four long range Ilyushin Il-62M, three Ilyushin Il-76MD large cargo aircraft. In 2008 a long range Tupolev Tu-204-300's purchased along with a larger version the Tupolev Tu-204-100B in 2010.

Demographics



North Korea's population of roughly 24 million is one of the most ethnically and linguistically homogeneous in the world, with very small numbers of Chinese, Japanese
Japanese people in North Korea
Japanese people in North Korea consist mainly of four groups: prisoners-of-war in the Soviet Union, Japanese accompanying repatriating Zainichi Korean spouses, defectors, and kidnapping victims...

, Vietnamese, South Korean, and European expatriate minorities.

According to the CIA World Factbook, North Korea's life expectancy was 63.8 years in 2009, a figure roughly equivalent to that of Pakistan
Pakistan
Pakistan , officially the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is a sovereign state in South Asia. It has a coastline along the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Oman in the south and is bordered by Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the far northeast. In the north, Tajikistan...

 and Burma and slightly lower than Russia. Infant mortality
Infant mortality
Infant mortality is defined as the number of infant deaths per 1000 live births. Traditionally, the most common cause worldwide was dehydration from diarrhea. However, the spreading information about Oral Re-hydration Solution to mothers around the world has decreased the rate of children dying...

 stood at a high level of 51.3, which is 2.5 times higher than that of China
People's Republic of China
China , officially the People's Republic of China , is the most populous country in the world, with over 1.3 billion citizens. Located in East Asia, the country covers approximately 9.6 million square kilometres...

, 5 times that of Russia
Russia
Russia or , officially known as both Russia and the Russian Federation , is a country in northern Eurasia. It is a federal semi-presidential republic, comprising 83 federal subjects...

, 12 times that of South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

.

According to the UNICEF "The State of the world's Children 2003" North Korea appears ranked at the 73rd place (with first place having the highest mortality rate), between Guatemala
Guatemala
Guatemala is a country in Central America bordered by Mexico to the north and west, the Pacific Ocean to the southwest, Belize to the northeast, the Caribbean to the east, and Honduras and El Salvador to the southeast...

 (72nd) and Tuvalu
Tuvalu
Tuvalu , formerly known as the Ellice Islands, is a Polynesian island nation located in the Pacific Ocean, midway between Hawaii and Australia. Its nearest neighbours are Kiribati, Nauru, Samoa and Fiji. It comprises four reef islands and five true atolls...

 (74th). North Korea's Total fertility rate
Total Fertility Rate
The total fertility rate of a population is the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime if she were to experience the exact current age-specific fertility rates through her lifetime, and she...

 is relatively low and stood at 2.0 in 2009, comparable to those of the United States
United States
The United States of America is a federal constitutional republic comprising fifty states and a federal district...

 and France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

.

Language



North Korea shares the Korean language
Korean language
Korean is the official language of the country Korea, in both South and North. It is also one of the two official languages in the Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in People's Republic of China. There are about 78 million Korean speakers worldwide. In the 15th century, a national writing...

 with South Korea. There are dialect differences within both Koreas, but the border between North and South does not represent a major linguistic boundary. While prevalent in the South, the adoption of modern terms from foreign languages has been limited in North Korea. Hanja
Hanja
Hanja is the Korean name for the Chinese characters hanzi. More specifically, it refers to those Chinese characters borrowed from Chinese and incorporated into the Korean language with Korean pronunciation...

 (Chinese character
Chinese character
Chinese characters are logograms used in the writing of Chinese and Japanese , less frequently Korean , formerly Vietnamese , or other languages...

s) are no longer used in North Korea, although still occasionally used in South Korea. Both Koreas share the phonetic writing system called Chosongul in the north and Hangul
Hangul
Hangul,Pronounced or ; Korean: 한글 Hangeul/Han'gŭl or 조선글 Chosŏn'gŭl/Joseongeul the Korean alphabet, is the native alphabet of the Korean language. It is a separate script from Hanja, the logographic Chinese characters which are also sometimes used to write Korean...

 south of the DMZ. The official Romanization
Romanization
In linguistics, romanization or latinization is the representation of a written word or spoken speech with the Roman script, or a system for doing so, where the original word or language uses a different writing system . Methods of romanization include transliteration, for representing written...

 differs in the two countries, with North Korea using a slightly modified McCune-Reischauer
McCune-Reischauer
McCune–Reischauer romanization is one of the two most widely used Korean language romanization systems, along with the Revised Romanization of Korean, which replaced McCune–Reischauer as the official romanization system in South Korea in 2000...

 system, and the South using the Revised Romanization of Korean
Revised Romanization of Korean
The Revised Romanization of Korean is the official Korean language romanization system in South Korea proclaimed by Ministry of Culture, Sports and Tourism, replacing the older McCune–Reischauer system...

.

Religion



Both Koreas share a Buddhist
Korean Buddhism
Korean Buddhism is distinguished from other forms of Buddhism by its attempt to resolve what it sees as inconsistencies in Mahayana Buddhism. Early Korean monks believed that the traditions they received from foreign countries were internally inconsistent. To address this, they developed a new...

 and Confucian
Korean Confucianism
Korean Confucianism is the form of Confucianism developed in Korea. One of the most substantial influences in Korean intellectual history was the introduction of Confucian thought as part of the cultural influence from China...

 heritage and a recent history of Christian
Christianity in Korea
The practice of Christianity in Korea revolves around two of its largest branches, Protestantism and Catholicism, accounting for 8.6 million and 5.1 million members respectively. Roman Catholicism was first introduced during the late Joseon Dynasty period...

 and Cheondoism
Cheondoism
Cheondoism or Chondoism is a 20th-century Korean religious movement, based on the 19th century Donghak movement founded by Choe Je-u that had its origins in the peasant rebellions which arose starting in 1812 during the Joseon Dynasty...

 ("religion of the Heavenly Way") movements. The North Korean constitution states that freedom of religion is permitted. According to the Western standards of religion, the majority of the North Korean population could be characterized as irreligious. However, the cultural influence of such traditional religions as Buddhism and Confucianism still have an effect on North Korean spiritual life.

Nevertheless, Buddhists in North Korea reportedly fare better than other religious groups, particularly Christians, who are said to face persecution by the authorities. Buddhists are given limited funding by the government to promote the religion, because Buddhism played an integral role in traditional Korean culture.
According to Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

, free religious activities no longer exist in North Korea, as the government sponsors religious groups only to create an illusion of religious freedom.
According to Religious Intelligence the situation of religion in North Korea is the following:
  • Irreligion
    Irreligion
    Irreligion is defined as an absence of religion or an indifference towards religion. Sometimes it may also be defined more narrowly as hostility towards religion. When characterized as hostility to religion, it includes antitheism, anticlericalism and antireligion. When characterized as...

    : 15,460,000 (64.3% of population, the vast majority of which are adherents of the Juche philosophy)
  • Korean shamanism
    Korean shamanism
    Korean shamanism, today known as Muism or sometimes Sinism , encompasses a variety of indigenous religious beliefs and practices of the Korean people and the Korean area...

    : 3,846,000 adherents (16% of population)
  • Cheondoism
    Cheondoism
    Cheondoism or Chondoism is a 20th-century Korean religious movement, based on the 19th century Donghak movement founded by Choe Je-u that had its origins in the peasant rebellions which arose starting in 1812 during the Joseon Dynasty...

    : 3,245,000 adherents (13.5% of population)
  • Buddhism
    Buddhism
    Buddhism is a religion and philosophy encompassing a variety of traditions, beliefs and practices, largely based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha . The Buddha lived and taught in the northeastern Indian subcontinent some time between the 6th and 4th...

    : 1,082,000 adherents (4.5% of population)
  • Christianity
    Christianity
    Christianity is a monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus as presented in canonical gospels and other New Testament writings...

    : 406,000 adherents (1.7% of population)


Pyongyang was the center of Christian activity in Korea until 1945. From the late forties 166 priests and other religious figures were killed or kidnapped (disappeared without trace), including Francis Hong Yong-ho
Francis Hong Yong-ho
Francis Hong Yong-ho was the Roman Catholic bishop of Pyongyang, North Korea. Francis Hong Yong-ho was imprisoned by the communist regime of Kim Il-sung in 1949 and later disappeared...

, bishop of Pyongyang. No Catholic priest survived the persecution, all churches were destroyed and the government never allowed any foreign priest to set up in North Korea.

Today, four state-sanctioned churches exist, which freedom of religion advocates say are showcases for foreigners. Official government statistics report that there are 10,000 Protestants
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 and 4,000 Roman Catholics
Roman Catholic Church
The Catholic Church, also known as the Roman Catholic Church, is the world's largest Christian church, with over a billion members. Led by the Pope, it defines its mission as spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ, administering the sacraments and exercising charity...

 in North Korea.

According to a ranking published by Open Doors
Open Doors
Open Doors is a non-denominational mission supporting persecuted Christians in more than 50 countries where Christianity is socially or legally discouraged or oppressed...

, an organization that supports persecuted Christians, North Korea is currently the country with the most severe persecution of Christians in the world. Open Doors estimates that 50000 – 70000 Christians are detained in North Korean prison camps. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 also have expressed concerns about religious persecution in North Korea.

Education



Education in North Korea is free of charge, compulsory until the secondary level, and is controlled by the government. The state also used to provide school uniforms free of charge until the early 1990s. Heuristics is actively applied in order to develop the independence and creativity of students. Compulsory education lasts eleven years, and encompasses one year of preschool, four years of primary education
Primary education
A primary school is an institution in which children receive the first stage of compulsory education known as primary or elementary education. Primary school is the preferred term in the United Kingdom and many Commonwealth Nations, and in most publications of the United Nations Educational,...

 and six years of secondary education
Secondary education
Secondary education is the stage of education following primary education. Secondary education includes the final stage of compulsory education and in many countries it is entirely compulsory. The next stage of education is usually college or university...

. The school curriculum has both academic and political content.

Primary schools are known as people's schools, and children attend them from the age of 6 to 9. Then from age 10 to 16, they attend either a regular secondary school or a special secondary school, depending on their specialties.

Higher education
Higher education
Higher, post-secondary, tertiary, or third level education refers to the stage of learning that occurs at universities, academies, colleges, seminaries, and institutes of technology...

 is not compulsory in North Korea. It is composed of two systems: academic higher education and higher education for continuing education. The academic higher education system includes three kinds of institutions: universities
University
A university is an institution of higher education and research, which grants academic degrees in a variety of subjects. A university is an organisation that provides both undergraduate education and postgraduate education...

, professional schools, and technical school
Technical school
Technical school is a general term used for two-year college which provide mostly employment-preparation skills for trained labor, such as welding, culinary arts and office management.-Associations supporting technical schools:...

s. Graduate school
Graduate school
A graduate school is a school that awards advanced academic degrees with the general requirement that students must have earned a previous undergraduate degree...

s for master's
Master's degree
A master's is an academic degree granted to individuals who have undergone study demonstrating a mastery or high-order overview of a specific field of study or area of professional practice...

 and doctoral
PHD
PHD may refer to:*Ph.D., a doctorate of philosophy*Ph.D. , a 1980s British group*PHD finger, a protein sequence*PHD Mountain Software, an outdoor clothing and equipment company*PhD Docbook renderer, an XML renderer...

 level studies are attached to universities, and are for students who want to continue their education. Two notable universities in the DPRK are the Kim Il-sung University and Pyongyang University of Science and Technology
Pyongyang University of Science and Technology
Pyongyang University of Science and Technology is North Korea's first privately funded university. It is founded, operated and partly funded by associations and people outside the country...

, both in Pyongyang
Pyongyang
Pyongyang is the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, commonly known as North Korea, and the largest city in the country. Pyongyang is located on the Taedong River and, according to preliminary results from the 2008 population census, has a population of 3,255,388. The city was...

. The former, founded in October 1946, is an elite institution whose enrollment of 16,000 full- and part-time students in the early 1990s occupies, in the words of one observer, the "pinnacle of the North Korean educational and social system."

North Korea is one of the most literate countries in the world, with an average literacy rate of 99%.

Health care


North Korea has a national medical service and health insurance system. North Korea spends 3% of its gross domestic product on health care. Beginning in the 1950s, the DPRK put great emphasis on healthcare, and between 1955 and 1986, the number of hospital
Hospital
A hospital is a health care institution providing patient treatment by specialized staff and equipment. Hospitals often, but not always, provide for inpatient care or longer-term patient stays....

s grew from 285 to 2,401, and the number of clinic
Clinic
A clinic is a health care facility that is primarily devoted to the care of outpatients...

s – from 1,020 to 5,644. There are hospitals attached to factories and mines. Since 1979 more emphasis has been put on traditional Korean medicine, based on treatment with herbs and acupuncture
Acupuncture
Acupuncture is a type of alternative medicine that treats patients by insertion and manipulation of solid, generally thin needles in the body....

.

North Korea's healthcare system has been in a steep decline since the 1990s due to natural disasters, economic problems, and food and energy shortages. Many hospitals and clinics in North Korea now lack essential medicines, equipment, running water and electricity.

Almost 100% of the population has access to water and sanitation, but it is not completely potable. Infectious disease
Infectious disease
Infectious diseases, also known as communicable diseases, contagious diseases or transmissible diseases comprise clinically evident illness resulting from the infection, presence and growth of pathogenic biological agents in an individual host organism...

s, such as tuberculosis, malaria, and hepatitis B, are considered to be endemic
Endemic (epidemiology)
In epidemiology, an infection is said to be endemic in a population when that infection is maintained in the population without the need for external inputs. For example, chickenpox is endemic in the UK, but malaria is not...

 to the country. Life expectancy
Life expectancy
Life expectancy is the expected number of years of life remaining at a given age. It is denoted by ex, which means the average number of subsequent years of life for someone now aged x, according to a particular mortality experience...

 in North Korea is 63.8 years, occupying the 170th place in the world, according to 2009 estimates.

Among other health problems, many North Korean citizens suffer from the after effects of malnutrition
Malnutrition
Malnutrition is the condition that results from taking an unbalanced diet in which certain nutrients are lacking, in excess , or in the wrong proportions....

, caused by famines related to the failure of its food distribution program and "military first" policy. A 1998 United Nations (UN) World Food Program report revealed that 60% of children suffered from malnutrition, and 16% were acutely malnourished. As a result, those who suffered during the disaster have ongoing health problems.

Human rights


Multiple international human rights
Human rights
Human rights are "commonly understood as inalienable fundamental rights to which a person is inherently entitled simply because she or he is a human being." Human rights are thus conceived as universal and egalitarian . These rights may exist as natural rights or as legal rights, in both national...

 organizations, including Amnesty International
Amnesty International
Amnesty International is an international non-governmental organisation whose stated mission is "to conduct research and generate action to prevent and end grave abuses of human rights, and to demand justice for those whose rights have been violated."Following a publication of Peter Benenson's...

 and Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch
Human Rights Watch is an international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights. Its headquarters are in New York City and it has offices in Berlin, Beirut, Brussels, Chicago, Geneva, Johannesburg, London, Los Angeles, Moscow, Paris, San Francisco, Tokyo,...

, accuse North Korea of having one of the worst human rights records of any nation. North Koreans have been referred to as "some of the world's most brutalized people" by Human Rights Watch, due to the severe restrictions placed on their political
Freedom (political)
Political freedom is a central philosophy in Western history and political thought, and one of the most important features of democratic societies...

 and economic freedom
Economic freedom
Economic freedom is a term used in economic and policy debates. As with freedom generally, there are various definitions, but no universally accepted concept of economic freedom...

s.
North Korean defectors
North Korean defectors
A number of individuals have defected from North Korea. Since the division of Korea after World War II and the end of the Korean War , many people have defected from North Korea, mainly for political, ideological, religious and economic reasons...

 have testified to the existence of prisons and concentration camps with an estimated 150,000 to 200,000 inmates (about 0.85% of the population), and have reported torture, starvation, rape, murder, medical experimentation, forced labour, and forced abortions. Convicted political prisoners and their families are sent to these camps, where they are prohibited from marrying, required to grow their own food, and cut off from external communication (which was previously allowed).

The system changed slightly at the end of 1990s, when population growth became very low. In many cases, where capital punishment was de facto, it was replaced by less severe punishments. Bribery became prevalent throughout the country. For example, years ago just listening to South Korean radio could result in capital punishment. However, many North Koreans now illegally wear clothes of South Korean origin, listen to Southern music, watch South Korean videotapes and even receive Southern broadcasts.

Personality cult


The North Korean government exercises control over many aspects of the nation's culture, and this control is used to perpetuate a cult of personality
Cult of personality
A cult of personality arises when an individual uses mass media, propaganda, or other methods, to create an idealized and heroic public image, often through unquestioning flattery and praise. Cults of personality are usually associated with dictatorships...

 surrounding Kim Il-sung, and, to a lesser extent, Kim Jong-il. While visiting North Korea in 1979, journalist Bradley Martin noted that nearly all music, art, and sculpture that he observed glorified
Propaganda
Propaganda is a form of communication that is aimed at influencing the attitude of a community toward some cause or position so as to benefit oneself or one's group....

 "Great Leader" Kim Il-sung, whose personality cult was then being extended to his son, "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il. There is even widespread belief that Kim Il-sung "created the world", and Kim Jong-il can "control the weather".
The song "No Motherland Without You
No Motherland Without You
No Motherland Without You is North Korean leader Kim Jong-il's signature tune. It proclaims the talent and virtues of Kim Jong-il, and the attachment of the Korean people for him...

" (당신이없으면 조국도없다), sung by the North Korean Army Choir, was created especially for Kim Jong-il and is one of the most popular tunes in the country. Kim Il-sung is still officially revered as the nation's "Eternal President". Several landmarks in North Korea are named for Kim Il-sung, including Kim Il-sung University, Kim Il-sung Stadium
Kim Il-sung Stadium
Kim Il-sung Stadium is a large stadium located in Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. It was originally built as the Kirimri Stadium in 1926 during the Japanese occupation in 1930-1940s...

, and Kim Il-sung Square
Kim Il-sung Square
Kim Il-sung Square is a city square in Pyongyang, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and is named after the founding leader of the DPRK, Kim Il-sung. Opened in August 1954, the square is located on the west bank of the Taedong River, directly opposite the Juche Tower on the other side of the...

. Defectors have been quoted as saying that North Korean schools deify both father and son. Kim Il-sung rejected the notion that he had created a cult around himself, and accused those who suggested this of "factionalism
Political faction
A political faction is a grouping of individuals, such as a political party, a trade union, or other group with a political purpose. A faction or political party may include fragmented sub-factions, “parties within a party," which may be referred to as power blocs, or voting blocs. The individuals...

".

Critics maintain this Kim Jong-il personality cult was inherited from his father, Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-il is often the center of attention throughout ordinary life in the DPRK. His birthday is one of the most important public holidays in the country. On his 60th birthday (based on his official date of birth), mass celebrations occurred throughout the country. Kim Jong-il's personality cult, although significant, is not as extensive as his father's. In 2004, some of his official portraits were taken down from public buildings. One point of view is that Kim Jong-il's cult of personality is solely out of respect for Kim Il-sung or out of fear of punishment for failure to pay homage. Media and government sources from outside of North Korea generally support this view, while North Korean government sources say that it is genuine hero worship.

Korean reunification



North Korea's policy is to seek reunification without what it sees as outside interference, through a federal structure retaining each side's leadership and systems. Both North and South Korea signed the June 15th North–South Joint Declaration in which both sides made promises to seek out a peaceful reunification. The Democratic Federal Republic of Korea is a proposed state first mentioned by then North Korean president Kim Il-sung on October 10, 1980, proposing a federation between North and South Korea
South Korea
The Republic of Korea , , is a sovereign state in East Asia, located on the southern portion of the Korean Peninsula. It is neighbored by the People's Republic of China to the west, Japan to the east, North Korea to the north, and the East China Sea and Republic of China to the south...

 in which the respective political systems would initially remain.

Sports


Perhaps the most well known sporting event in North Korea is the annual Arirang Festival
Arirang Festival
The Grand Mass Gymnastics and Artistic Performance Arirang are held in the Rungrado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea...

. The main attraction of Arirang is the mass gymnastics display. In football, fifteen clubs compete in the DPR Korea League
DPR Korea League
Highest Class Football League is the football league-system championship in North Korea. The competition was founded in 2010....

 level-one and vie for both the Technical Innovation Contests and the Republic Championship. The national football team, Chollima
Korea DPR national football team
The Democratic People's Republic of Korea national football team represents the Democratic People's Republic of Korea in international association football and is controlled by the DPR Korea Football Association, the governing body for football in North Korea.North Korea surprised with a...

, compete in the AFC
Asian Football Confederation
The Asian Football Confederation is the governing body of association football in Asia. It has 46 member countries, mostly located on the Asian continent. However, due to the disputed boundary of Europe and Asia, nations such as Russia and Turkey which are located mostly in geographic Asia are...

 and are ranked 105 by FIFA
FIFA
The Fédération Internationale de Football Association , commonly known by the acronym FIFA , is the international governing body of :association football, futsal and beach football. Its headquarters are located in Zurich, Switzerland, and its president is Sepp Blatter, who is in his fourth...

 as of 26 May 2010. The team competed in the FIFA World Cup
FIFA World Cup
The FIFA World Cup, often simply the World Cup, is an international association football competition contested by the senior men's national teams of the members of Fédération Internationale de Football Association , the sport's global governing body...

 in 1966
1966 FIFA World Cup
The 1966 FIFA World Cup, the eighth staging of the World Cup, was held in England from 11 July to 30 July. England beat West Germany 4–2 in the final, winning the World Cup for the first time, so becoming the first host to win the tournament since Italy in 1934.-Host selection:England was chosen as...

 and 2010
2010 FIFA World Cup
The 2010 FIFA World Cup was the 19th FIFA World Cup, the world championship for men's national association football teams. It took place in South Africa from 11 June to 11 July 2010...

. In hockey, North Korea has a men’s team that is ranked 43rd out of 49 and competes in Division II. The women’s team is ranked 21 out of 34 and competes in Division II.

North Korea has been competing
North Korea at the Olympics
North Korea first participated at the Olympic Games in 1964, appearing only in the Winter Olympic Games that year. Eight years later in 1972, the nation first participated at the Summer Olympic Games...

 in the Olympics since 1964
1964 Winter Olympics
The 1964 Winter Olympics, officially known as the IX Olympic Winter Games, were a winter multi-sport event which was celebrated in Innsbruck, Austria, from January 29 to February 9, 1964...

 and debuted at the summer games in 1972
1972 Summer Olympics
The 1972 Summer Olympics, officially known as the Games of the XX Olympiad, were an international multi-sport event held in Munich, West Germany, from August 26 to September 11, 1972....

 by taking home five medals, including one gold. The IOC Code is PRK
North Korea at the Olympics
North Korea first participated at the Olympic Games in 1964, appearing only in the Winter Olympic Games that year. Eight years later in 1972, the nation first participated at the Summer Olympic Games...

. At the Athens
2004 Summer Olympics
The 2004 Summer Olympic Games, officially known as the Games of the XXVIII Olympiad, was a premier international multi-sport event held in Athens, Greece from August 13 to August 29, 2004 with the motto Welcome Home. 10,625 athletes competed, some 600 more than expected, accompanied by 5,501 team...

 Games in 2004, the North and South marched together in the opening and closing ceremonies under the Unification Flag
Unification Flag
The Unification Flag is a flag designed to represent all of Korea when both North and South Korea participate in sporting events. The flag was first used in 1991 when the two countries competed as a single team in the 41st World Table Tennis Championship in Chiba, Japan and the 8th World Youth...

, but competed separately. To date, North Korea has medaled in every summer Olympics in which they have participated.

The martial art
Martial arts
Martial arts are extensive systems of codified practices and traditions of combat, practiced for a variety of reasons, including self-defense, competition, physical health and fitness, as well as mental and spiritual development....

 taekwondo
Taekwondo
Taekwondo is a Korean martial art and the national sport of South Korea. In Korean, tae means "to strike or break with foot"; kwon means "to strike or break with fist"; and do means "way", "method", or "path"...

 originated in Korea. In the 1950s and 60s, modern rules were standardised and taekwondo became an official Olympic sport
Olympic Games
The Olympic Games is a major international event featuring summer and winter sports, in which thousands of athletes participate in a variety of competitions. The Olympic Games have come to be regarded as the world’s foremost sports competition where more than 200 nations participate...

 in 2000. Other Korean martial arts include taekkyeon, hapkido
Hapkido
Hapkido is a dynamic and also eclectic Korean martial art. It is a form of self-defense that employs joint locks, techniques of other martial arts, as well as kicks, punches, and other striking attacks...

, tang soo do
Tang Soo Do
Tang Soo Do is a Korean martial art promoted by Hwang Kee that has roots in various martial arts, including taekkyeon and Subak.-Etymology:...

, kuk sool won
Kuk Sool Won
Kuk Sool Won is a Korean martial arts system founded by Suh In-Hyuk |Grandmaster]]) in 1958. The name Kuk Sool Won translates to "National Martial Art Association" and despite often being shortened to 'Kuk Sool,' the name kuk sool is a non-trade marked name used to denote similar Korean martial...

, kumdo
Kumdo
Kumdo is a modern martial art descended from kendo, which is practiced in Korea. It is also romanized as kǒmdo, gumdo, or geomdo. The name means "the way of the sword," and is a cognate with the Japanese term. Kumdo is a martial art that has become engrained within Korean culture and society since...

 and subak
Subak
Subak, Subakgi or Yusul is either a specific ancient Korean martial art. Historically this term may have specified the old Korean martial art of taekkyeon.-History:...

.

See also



  • List of documentary films about North Korea
  • North Korea Uncovered
    North Korea Uncovered
    North Korea Uncovered is a comprehensive set of mappings of North Korea. It includes in-depth coverage of thousands of buildings, monuments, missile-storage facilities, mass graves, secret labour camps, palaces, restaurants, tourist sites, and main roads of the country, and even includes the...



Further reading


  • Ben Anderson, Interview on visit to North Korea, Frontline World, January 2003
  • Jasper Becker Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea Oxford University Press (2005), hardcover, 328 pages, ISBN 9780195170443
  • Gordon Cucullu, Separated At Birth: How North Korea Became The Evil Twin Globe Pequot Press (2004), hardcover, 307 pages, ISBN 1-59228-591-0
  • Bruce Cumings
    Bruce Cumings
    Bruce Cumings is the Gustavus F. and Ann M. Swift Distinguished Service Professor in History at the University of Chicago and the chairperson of the history department...

    , Korea's Place in the Sun: A Modern History, W.W. Norton & Company, 1998, paperback, 527 pages, ISBN 0-393-31681-5
  • Bruce Cumings, Origins of the Korean War (Vol. 1) : Liberation and the Emergence of Separate Regimes 1945–1947, Princeton University Press
    Princeton University Press
    -Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...

    , 1981, paperback, ISBN 0-691-10113-2
  • Bruce Cumings, Origins of the Korean War (Vol. 2): The Roaring of the Cataract 1947–1950, Cornell University Press
    Cornell University Press
    The Cornell University Press, established in 1869 but inactive from 1884 to 1930, was the first university publishing enterprise in the United States.A division of Cornell University, it is housed in Sage House, the former residence of Henry William Sage....

    , 2004, hardcover, ISBN 89-7696-613-9
  • Bruce Cumings, North Korea: Another Country, New Press, 2004, paperback, ISBN 1-56584-940-X
  • Bruce Cumings, Living Through The Forgotten War: Portrait Of Korea, Mansfield Freeman Center for East Asian Studies, 2004, paperback, ISBN 0-9729704-0-1
  • Bruce Cumings, Inventing the Axis of Evil: The Truth About North Korea, Iran, and Syria, New Press, 2006, paperback, ISBN 1-59558-038-7
  • Delisle, Guy, Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea, Drawn & Quarterly Books, 2005, hardcover, 176 pages, ISBN 1-896597-89-0
  • Barbara Demick
    Barbara Demick
    Barbara Demick is an American journalist. She is currently Beijing bureau chief of the Los Angeles Times. She is the author of Logavina Street: Life and Death in a Sarajevo Neighborhood...

    , Nothing to Envy: Real Lives in North Korea, Granta, 2010. ISBN 9781847080141 (& New York, Random House, 2009)
  • Nick Eberstadt, aka Nicholas Eberstadt, The End of North Korea, American Enterprise Institute Press (1999), hardcover, 191 pages, ISBN 0-8447-4087-X
  • John Feffer, North Korea South Korea: U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis, Seven Stories Press
    Seven Stories Press
    Seven Stories Press is an independent publishing company. Located in New York City, the company was founded by editor Dan Simon in 1995 after he parted company with Four Walls Eight Windows. The company was named for its seven founding authors: Annie Ernaux, Gary Null, the estate of Nelson Algren,...

    , 2003, paperback, 197 pages, ISBN 1-58322-603-6
  • Michael Harrold, Comrades and Strangers
    Comrades and Strangers
    Comrades and Strangers is the memoir of Michael Harrold, one of the first Britons to reside in North Korea. The book was written to demystify North Korean society.-History:...

    : Behind the Closed Doors of North Korea
    , Wiley Publishing, 2004, paperback, 432 pages, ISBN 0-470-86976-3
  • Helen-Louise Hunter, Kim Il-song's North Korea. Praeger, 1999. ISBN 0-275-96296-2.
  • Lee Soon Ok
    Lee Soon Ok
    Lee Soon Ok is a former political prisoner and defector from North Korea. She resides in South Korea.-Imprisonment:For six years, Lee was imprisoned in Kaechon concentration camp where she has reported witnessing forced abortions, infanticide, several instances of rape, public executions, testing...

    . Eyes of the Tailless Animals: Prison Memoirs of a North Korean Woman
    Eyes of the Tailless Animals: Prison Memoirs of a North Korean Woman
    Eyes of the Tailless Animals: Prison Memoirs of a North Korean Woman recounts the experiences of former North Korean political prison survivor and refugee Soon Ok Lee ....

    . Living Sacrifice Book Co, 1999, ISBN 978-0882643359
  • Hyejin Kim, Jia: A Novel of North Korea, Cleis Press
    Cleis Press
    Cleis Press is an independent publisher of books in the areas of sexuality, erotica, feminism, gay and lesbian studies, gender studies, fiction, and human rights. The press was founded in 1980 in Minneapolis, Minnesota, later moved to San Francisco, and is now based out of Berkeley, CA...

    , 2007, ISBN 1573442755
  • Christian Kracht
    Christian Kracht
    Christian Kracht is a Swiss novelist and journalist.-Early life:Kracht was born in Saanen. His father, Christian Kracht Sr., was chief representative for the Axel Springer publishing company in the 1960s. Kracht attended Schule Schloss Salem in Baden and Lakefield College School in Ontario, Canada...

    , Eva Munz, Lukas Nikol, "The Ministry Of Truth: Kim Jong Il's North Korea", Feral House, Oct 2007, 132 pages, 88 color photographs, ISBN 978-1932595277
  • Mitchell B. Lerner, The Pueblo Incident: A Spy Ship and the Failure of American Foreign Policy, University Press of Kansas, 2002, hardcover, 408 pages, ISBN 0-7006-1171-1
  • Andrei Lankov, 'North of the DMZ: Essays on Daily Life in North Korea , McFarland & Company (April 24, 2007), paperback, 358 pages, ISBN 978-0786428397
  • John Feffer, North Korea South Korea: U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis, Seven Stories Press
    Seven Stories Press
    Seven Stories Press is an independent publishing company. Located in New York City, the company was founded by editor Dan Simon in 1995 after he parted company with Four Walls Eight Windows. The company was named for its seven founding authors: Annie Ernaux, Gary Null, the estate of Nelson Algren,...

    , 2003, paperback, 197 pages, ISBN 1-58322-603-6
  • Don Oberdorfer
    Don Oberdorfer
    Don Oberdorfer is an American professor at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies of Johns Hopkins University and was a journalist for 38 years, 25 of them with The Washington Post...

    . The Two Koreas : a contemporary history Addison-Wesley, 1997, 472 pages, ISBN 0-201-40927-5
  • Kong Dan Oh, and Ralph C. Hassig, North Korea Through the Looking Glass, The Brookings Institution, 2000, paperback, 216 pages, ISBN 0-8157-6435-9
  • Osmond, Andrew, High, Minnow Press, 2004, paperback, 216 pages, ISBN 978-0953944828 Includes a fictional account of the creation of a new state of New Korea.
  • Quinones, Dr C. Kenneth, and Joseph Tragert, The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding North Korea, Alpha Books, 2004, paperback, 448 pages, ISBN 1-59257-169-7
  • Sigal, Leon V., Disarming Strangers: Nuclear Diplomacy with North Korea, Princeton University Press
    Princeton University Press
    -Further reading:* "". Artforum International, 2005.-External links:* * * * *...

    , 199, 336 pages, ISBN 0-691-05797-4
  • Chris Springer, Pyongyang: The Hidden History of the North Korean Capital Saranda Books, 2003. ISBN 963-00-8104-0.
  • Vladimir, Cyber North Korea, Byakuya Shobo, 2003, paperback, 223 pages, ISBN 4-89367-881-7
  • Norbert Vollertsen, Inside North Korea: Diary of a Mad Place, Encounter Books, 2003, hardcover, 280 pages, ISBN 1-893554-87-2
  • Wahn Kihl, Y. (1983) "North Korea in 1983: Transforming "The Hermit Kingdom"?" Asian Survey, Vol. 24, No. 1: pp100–111
  • Robert Willoughby, North Korea: The Bradt Travel Guide. Globe Pequot, 2003. ISBN 1-84162-074-2.
  • Hyun Hee Kim, "The Tears of My Soul
    The Tears of My Soul
    The Tears of My Soul is the memoir of Kim Hyun Hui, the North Korean espionage agent who in 1987 carried out the mission to blow up Korean Air Flight 858. Kim Hyun Hui tells the story of how she was trained as a North Korean espionage agent and selected to carry out the mission given by Kim...

    ", William Morrow and Company, Inc., 1993, hardcover, 183 pages, ISBN 0-688-12833-5
  • Ducruet, Cesar et Jo, Jin-Cheol (2008) Coastal Cities, Port Activities and Logistic Constraints in a Socialist Developing Country: The Case of North Korea, Transport Reviews, Vol. 28, No. 1, pp. 1–25:
  • Guy Delisle
    Guy Delisle
    Guy Delisle is a comic book author from Quebec City, Quebec, Canada. He studied animation at Sheridan College in Oakville, near Toronto, and then worked for the animation studio CinéGroupe in Montreal...

     (2005) "Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea", Drawn and Quarterly, 184 pages, ISBN 978-1896597898


External links


  • KCNA – Korean Central News Agency, official news agency of the DPRK
  • Official Webpage of The Democratic People's Republic of Korea - maintained by the Korean Friendship Association
    Korean Friendship Association
    The Korean Friendship Association , headed by Spanish citizen Alejandro Cao de Benos de Les y Pérez, is an organization working with the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , as well as an organ of promotion/public relations for the...

  • North Korea - Link Collection (University of Colorado at Boulder
    University of Colorado at Boulder
    The University of Colorado Boulder is a public research university located in Boulder, Colorado...

     Libraries GovPubs)
  • “Show and Tell Pyongyang” A blog, often with images, in Russian
  • Article about Show and Tell Pyongyang in English on NK News
  • The official North Korean governmental portal Naenara
    Naenara
    The Naenara, literally "my country" in Korean is the official web portal of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea . The portal's categories include politics, tourism, music, foreign trade, arts, press, IT Industries, history, and "Korea is One"....

     at naenara.com.kp
  • The website of the Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries
    Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries
    The Committee for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries is based in North Korea . It is responsible for organizing a wide area of cultural events and to develop international relations between the DPRK and many countries of the world....

     at friend.com.kp
  • Korea Education Fund
  • The website of the Korean Central News Agency
    Korean Central News Agency
    The Korean Central News Agency is the state news agency of North Korea and has existed since December 5, 1946. KCNA is headquartered in the capital city of Pyongyang...

     at kcna.kp
  • The website of the digital edition of the Rodong Sinmun
    Rodong Sinmun
    Rodong Sinmun is a North Korean newspaper and the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea, published by the Rodong News Agency. It is the most widely read newspaper in the country...

     newspaper at rodong.rep.kp

Images

  • Inside North Korea - slideshow by The First Post
    The First Post
    The First Post is a British daily online news magazine based in London. It was launched in August 2005. It publishes news, current affairs, lifestyle, opinion, arts and sports pages, and it features an online games arcade and a cinema featuring short films, virals, trailers and eyewitness news...

  • North Korea: Inside a Secret State - slideshow by Life magazine