For More...

Fact


Population: 25,49 million(2017)
Area: 120 538 km²
Capital City: Pyongyang


About North Korea
North Korea, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is a country in East Asia constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, with Pyongyang the capital and the largest city in the country. To the north and northwest, the country is bordered by China and by Russia along the Amnok (known as the Yalu in Chinese) and Tumen rivers; it is bordered to the south by South Korea, with the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two. Nevertheless, North Korea, like its southern counterpart, claims to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands. Both North Korea and South Korea became members of the United Nations in 1991.


Currency

The North Korean Won is the currency of Korea (North). The currency code for Won is KPW, and the currency symbol is ₩.

Climate


North Korea experiences a combination of continental climate and an oceanic climate, but most of the country experiences a humid continental climate within the Köppen climate classification scheme. Winters bring clear weather interspersed with snow storms as a result of northern and northwestern winds that blow from Siberia. Summer tends to be by far the hottest, most humid, and rainiest time of year because of the southern and southeastern monsoon winds that carry moist air from the Pacific Ocean. Approximately 60 percent of all precipitation occurs from June to September. Spring and autumn are transitional seasons between summer and winter. The daily average high and low temperatures for Pyongyang are −3 and −13 °C (27 and 9 °F) in January and 29 and 20 °C (84 and 68 °F) in August.


Language


North Korea shares the Korean language with South Korea, although some dialectal differences exist within both Koreas. North Koreans refer to their Pyongyang dialect as munhwaŏ (“cultured language”) as opposed to the dialects of South Korea, especially the Seoul dialect or p’yojun’ŏ (“standard language”), which are viewed as decadent because of its use of loanwords from Chinese and European languages (particularly English). Words of Chinese, Manchu or Western origin have been eliminated from munhwa along with the usage of Chinese hancha characters. Written language uses only the chosŏn’gŭl phonetic alphabet, developed under Sejong the Great (1418–1450).


Economy


North Korea has maintained one of the most closed and centralized economies in the world since the 1940s. For several decades it followed the Soviet pattern of five-year plans with the ultimate goal of achieving self-sufficiency. Extensive Soviet and Chinese support allowed North Korea to rapidly recover from the Korean War and register very high growth rates. Systematic inefficiency began to arise around 1960, when the economy shifted from the extensive to the intensive development stage. The shortage of skilled labor, energy, arable land and transportation significantly impeded long-term growth and resulted in consistent failure to meet planning objectives. The major slowdown of the economy contrasted with South Korea, which surpassed the North in terms of absolute GDP and per capita income by the 1980s. North Korea declared the last seven-year plan unsuccessful in December 1993 and thereafter stopped announcing plans.
Foreign trade surpassed pre-crisis levels in 2005 and continues to expand. North Korea has a number of special economic zones (SEZs) and Special Administrative Regions where foreign companies can operate with tax and tariff incentives while North Korean establishments gain access to improved technology. Initially four such zones existed, but they yielded little overall success. The SEZ system was overhauled in 2013 when 14 new zones were opened and the Rason Special Economic Zone was reformed as a joint Chinese-North Korean project. The Kaesong Industrial Region is a special economic zone where more than 100 South Korean companies employ some 52,000 North Korean workers. As of August 2017, China is the biggest trading partner of North Korea outside inter-Korean trade, accounting for more than 84% of the total external trade ($5.3 billion) followed by India at 3.3% share ($205 million). In 2014, Russia wrote off 90% of North Korea’s debt and the two countries agreed to conduct all transactions in rubles. Overall, external trade in 2013 reached a total of $7.3 billion (the highest amount since 1990), while inter-Korean trade dropped to an eight-year low of $1.1 billion.


Education


The 2008 census listed the entire population as literate. An 11-year free, compulsory cycle of primary and secondary education is provided in more than 27,000 nursery schools, 14,000 kindergartens, 4,800 four-year primary and 4,700 six-year secondary schools. 77% of males and 79% of females aged 30–34 have finished secondary school. An additional 300 universities and colleges offer higher education.
Most graduates from the compulsory program do not attend university but begin their obligatory military service or proceed to work in farms or factories instead. The main deficiencies of higher education are the heavy presence of ideological subjects, which comprise 50% of courses in social studies and 20% in sciences, and the imbalances in curriculum. The study of natural sciences is greatly emphasized while social sciences are neglected. Heuristics is actively applied to develop the independence and creativity of students throughout the system. The study of Russian and English was made compulsory in upper middle schools in 1978.


Religion


There are no known official statistics of religions in North Korea. According to Religious Intelligence, 64.3% of the population are irreligious, 16% practice Korean shamanism, 13.5% practice Chondoism, 4.5% are Buddhist, and 1.7% are Christian. Freedom of religion and the right to religious ceremonies are constitutionally guaranteed, but religions are restricted by the government. Amnesty International has expressed concerns about religious persecution in North Korea.
The influence of Buddhism and Confucianism still has an effect on cultural life. Chondoism (“Heavenly Way”) is an indigenous syncretic belief combining elements of Korean shamanism, Buddhism, Taoism and Catholicism that is officially represented by the WPK-controlled Chongu Party.
The Open Doors mission, a Protestant-group based in the United States and founded during the Cold War-era, claims the most severe persecution of Christians in the world occurs in North Korea. Four state-sanctioned churches exist, but critics claim these are showcases for foreigners.


Culture


Despite a historically strong Chinese influence, Korean culture has shaped its own unique identity. It came under attack during the Japanese rule from 1910 to 1945, when Japan enforced a cultural assimilation policy. Koreans were forced to learn and speak Japanese, adopt the Japanese family name system and Shinto religion, and were forbidden to write or speak the Korean language in schools, businesses, or public places.
After the peninsula was divided in 1945, two distinct cultures formed out of the common Korean heritage. North Koreans have little exposure to foreign influence. The revolutionary struggle and the brilliance of the leadership are some of the main themes in art. “Reactionary” elements from traditional culture have been discarded and cultural forms with a “folk” spirit have been reintroduced.
Korean heritage is protected and maintained by the state. Over 190 historical sites and objects of national significance are cataloged as National Treasures of North Korea, while some 1,800 less valuable artifacts are included in a list of Cultural Assets. The Historic Sites and Monuments in Kaesong and the Complex of Goguryeo Tombs are UNESCO World Heritage Sites.


Health


North Korea had a life expectancy of 69.8 years in 2013. While North Korea is classified as a low-income country, the structure of North Korea’s causes of death (2013) is unlike that of other low-income countries. Instead, it is closer to worldwide averages, with non-communicable diseases—such as cardiovascular disease and cancers—accounting for two-thirds of the total deaths.
A 2013 study reported that communicable diseases and malnutrition are responsible for 29% of the total deaths in North Korea. This figure is higher than those of high-income countries and South Korea, but half of the average 57% of all deaths in other low-income countries. In 2003 infectious diseases like tuberculosis, malaria, and hepatitis B were described as endemic to the country as a result of the famine. However, in 2013, they were reported to be in decline.
In 2013, cardiovascular disease as a single disease group was reported as the largest cause of death in North Korea. The three major causes of death in DPR Korea are ischaemic heart disease (13%), lower respiratory infections (11%) and cerebrovascular disease (7%). Non-communicable diseases risk factors in North Korea include high rates of urbanisation, an aging society, and high rates of smoking and alcohol consumption amongst men.
According to a 2003 report by the United States Department of State, almost 100% of the population has access to water and sanitation. 80% of the population had access to improved sanitation facilities in 2015.
A free universal insurance system is in place. Quality of medical care varies significantly by region and is often low, with severe shortages of equipment, drugs and anaesthetics. According to WHO, expenditure on health per capita is one of the lowest in the world. Preventive medicine is emphasized through physical exercise and sports, nationwide monthly checkups and routine spraying of public places against disease. Every individual has a lifetime health card which contains a full medical record.


Government and politics


North Korea functions as a highly centralized, one-party state. According to its 2016 constitution, it is a self-described revolutionary and socialist state “guided in its activities by the Juche idea and the Songun idea”. In addition to the constitution, North Korea is governed by the Ten Principles for the Establishment of a Monolithic Ideological System (also known as the “Ten Principles of the One-Ideology System”) which establishes standards for governance and a guide for the behaviours of North Koreans. The Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) has an estimated 3,000,000 members and dominates every aspect of North Korean politics. It has two satellite organizations, the Korean Social Democratic Party and the Chondoist Chongu Party which participate in the WPK-led Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland.
Kim Jong-un of the Kim dynasty is the current Supreme Leader or Suryeong of North Korea. He heads all major governing structures: he is Chairman of the Workers’ Party of Korea, Chairman of the State Affairs Commission of North Korea, and Supreme Commander of the Korean People’s Army. His grandfather Kim Il-sung, the founder and leader of North Korea until his death in 1994, is the country’s “Eternal President”, while his father Kim Jong-il who succeeded Kim Il-sung as leader was announced “Eternal General Secretary” after his death in 2011.


According to the Constitution of North Korea there are officially three main branches of government. The first of these is the State Affairs Commission of North Korea, which acts as “the supreme national guidance organ of state sovereignty”. Its role is to deliberate and decide the work on defense building of the State, including major policies of the State; and to carry out the directions of the Chairman of the commission, Kim Jong-Un.
Legislative power is held by the unicameral Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA). Its 687 members are elected every five years by universal suffrage. Supreme People’s Assembly sessions are convened by the SPA Presidium, whose president (Kim Yong-nam since 1998) represents the state in relations with foreign countries. Deputies formally elect the President, the vice-presidents and members of the Presidium and take part in the constitutionally appointed activities of the legislature: pass laws, establish domestic and foreign policies, appoint members of the cabinet, review and approve the state economic plan, among others. The SPA itself cannot initiate any legislation independently of party or state organs. It is unknown whether it has ever criticized or amended bills placed before it, and the elections are based around a single list of WPK-approved candidates who stand without opposition.
Executive power is vested in the Cabinet of North Korea, which is headed by Premier Pak Pong-ju. The Premier represents the government and functions independently. His authority extends over two vice-premiers, 30 ministers, two cabinet commission chairmen, the cabinet chief secretary, the president of the Central Bank, the director of the Central Bureau of Statistics and the president of the Academy of Sciences. A 31st ministry, the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces, is under the jurisdiction of the State Affairs Commission.
Despite its official title as the ‘Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’ (DPRK) some observers have described North Korea’s political system as an absolute monarchy or a “hereditary dictatorship”.


Cuisine


Korean cuisine has evolved through centuries of social and political change. Originating from ancient agricultural and nomadic traditions in southern Manchuria and the Korean Peninsula, it has gone through a complex interaction of the natural environment and different cultural trends. Rice dishes and kimchi are staple Korean food. In a traditional meal, they accompany both side dishes (panch’an) and main courses like juk, pulgogi or noodles. Soju liquor is the best-known traditional Korean spirit.
North Korea’s most famous restaurant, Okryu-gwan, located in Pyongyang, is known for its raengmyeon cold noodles. Other dishes served there include gray mullet soup with boiled rice, beef rib soup, green bean pancake, sinsollo and dishes made from terrapin. Okryu-gwan sends research teams into the countryside to collect data on Korean cuisine and introduce new recipes. Some Asian cities host branches of the Pyongyang restaurant chain where waitresses perform music and dance.

Comments are closed.