Central & SE Asia / Australasia

North Korea flag
Summary | Profile

Country profile: North Korea

Location: Eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea
Climate: temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer
Terrain: mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east
Size: 120540 sq. km total (Land area: 120410 sq. km  Water area: 130 sq.km)
Population: 23,479,089 (July 2008 est.)
Languages: Korean
Government: Communist state one-man dictatorship
Capital city: Pyongyang
Legal system: based on Prussian civil law system with Japanese influences and Communist legal theory; no judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction
Currency: North Korean won (KPW)

Country profile

North Korea's economy, which remains under tight state control (collectivized agriculture and state-owned companies account for about 90 percent of all economic activity) grew by 2.2 percent in 2004, according to estimates by South Korea's central bank. Increases in output from utilities, agriculture, and mining contributed to this growth. The modest growth in real Gross Domestic Product (GDP) over the last seven years followed a steady economic contraction from 1990 through 1998. North Korea's communist ideology has been based on the concept of "juche," or self-reliance. Severe economic problems have, however, forced the country to accept international food aid and embark on a series of limited market reforms. Famine in North Korea has reportedly killed hundreds of thousands of people over the last decade. Several governments, including the United States, have provided funding to the United Nations' World Food Program (WFP) for emergency food aid to North Korea. North Korea has permitted a small amount of foreign investment in recent years, mainly by South Korean firms.

According to South Korean figures, South Korea surpassed China in 2002 as North Korea's largest trading partner. North Korean-South Korean Relations In mid-June 2000, the leaders of the two Koreas held their first summit meeting in Pyongyang. The summit led to a joint statement by the two leaders which supported, in general terms, the goal of eventual reunification of the two Korean states, reunification of families divided since the Korean War, and economic cooperation. Developments in inter-Korean relations since 2002 have been mixed. A naval clash near the two countries maritime frontier in June 2002 heightened tensions, but progress has been made in some areas, such as the commencement of work in September 2002 on clearing parts of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) to facilitate possible road and rail links.

South Korean president, Roh Moo-Hyun has continued a policy of engagement with the North. United States Economic Sanctions The United States announced on June 19, 2000 that it was easing some of the economic sanctions which have been in place with North Korea under the Trading With the Enemy Act since the start of the Korean War in 1950. Licenses are still required from the Treasury Department's Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) for many transactions, and sales of military and "dual-use" items are still restricted.

The designation of North Korea as a state supporter of terrorism by the United States also effectively precludes lending by international financial institutions such as the World Bank.

Energy production and consumption

Oil Gas
Production: 141 bbl/day (2005 est.)  
Consumption: 10,520 bbl/day (2006)  
Imports: 10,520 bbl/day (2006)  
Major fields:

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