The World Factbook (1990)/Korea, North

Korea, North

World Factbook (1990) Korea, North.jpg

 See regional map VIII


Total area: 120,540 km²; land area: 120,410 km²

Comparative area: slightly smaller than Mississippi

Land boundaries: 1,671 km total; China 1,416 km, South Korea 238 km, USSR 17 km

Coastline: 2,495 km

Maritime claims:

Extended economic zone: 200 nm
Territorial sea: 1 2 nm
Military boundary line: 50 nm (all foreign vessels and aircraft without permission are banned)

Disputes: short section of boundary with China is indefinite; Demarcation Line with 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

Natural resources: coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower

Land use: 18% arable land; 1% permanent crops; NEGL% meadows and pastures; 74% forest and woodland; 7% other; includes 9% irrigated

Environment: mountainous interior is isolated, nearly inaccessible, and sparsely populated; late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding

Note: strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and USSR


Population: 21,292,649 (July 1990), growth rate 1.7% (1990)

Birth rate: 22 births/1,000 population (1990)

Death rate: 5 deaths/1,000 population (1990)

Net migration rate: 0 migrants/1,000 population (1990)

Infant mortality rate: 27 deaths/1,000 live births (1990)

Life expectancy at birth: 69 years male, 75 years female (1990)

Total fertility rate: 2.1 children born/woman (1990)

Nationality: noun—Korean(s); adjective—Korean

Ethnic divisions: racially homogeneous

Religion: Buddhism and Confucianism; religious activities now almost nonexistent

Language: Korean

Literacy: 95% (est.)

Labor force: 9,615,000; 36% agricultural, 64% nonagricultural; shortage of skilled and unskilled labor (mid-1987 est.)

Organized labor: 1,600,000 members; single-trade union system coordinated by the General Federation of Trade Unions of Korea under the Central Committee


Long-form name: Democratic People's Republic of Korea; abbreviated DPRK

Type: Communist state; one-man rule

Capital: P’yǒngyang

Administrative divisions: 9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 3 special cities* (jikhalsi, singular and plural); Chagang-do, Hamgyǒng-namdo, Hamgyǒng-bukto, Hwanghae-namdo, Hwanghae-bukto, Kaesǒng-si*, Kangwǒn-do, Namp’o-si*, P’yǒngan-bukto, P’yǒngan-namdo, P’yǒngyang-si*, Yanggang-do

Independence: 9 September 1948

Constitution: adopted 1948, revised 27 December 1972

Legal system: based on German civil law system with Japanese influences and Communist legal theory; no judicial review of legislative acts; has not accepted compulsory ICJ jurisdiction

National holiday: Independence Day, 9 September (1948)

Executive branch: president, two vice presidents, premier, nine vice premiers, State Administration Council (cabinet)

Legislative branch: unicameral Supreme People's Assembly (Choe Ko In Min Hoe Ui)

Judicial branch: Central Court

Leaders: Chief of State—President KIM Il-sǒng (since 28 December 1972); Designated Successor KIM Chong-Il (son of President, born 16 February 1942);

Head of Government—Premier YON Hyong-muk (since NA December 1988)

Political parties and leaders: only party Korean Workers' Party (KWP); Kim Il-sǒng, General Secretary, and his son, Kim Chong-Il, Secretary, Central Committee

Suffrage: universal at age 17

Elections: President—last held 29 December 1986 (next to be held December 1990); results—President Kim II Sǒng was reelected without opposition;

Supreme People's Assembly—last held on 2 November 1986 (next to be held November 1990, but the constitutional provision for elections every four years is not always followed); results—KWP is the only party; seats—(655 total) KWP 655; the KWP approves a single list of candidates who are elected without opposition

Communists: KWP claims membership of about 2 million, or about one-tenth of population

Member of: ESCAP, FAO, G-77, IAEA, ICAO, IMO, IPU, ITU, NAM, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UPU, WFTU, WHO, WIPO, WTO, UNIDO, WMO; official observer status at UN

Diplomatic representation: none

Flag: three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (triple width), and blue; the red band is edged in white; on the hoist side of the red band is a white disk with a red five-pointed star


Overview: More than 90% of this command economy is socialized; agricultural land is collectivized; and state-owned industry produces 95% of manufactured goods. State control of economic affairs is unusually tight even for a Communist country because of the small size and homogeneity of the society and the strict one-man rule of Kim. Economic growth during the period 1984-89 has averaged approximately 3%. Abundant natural resources and hydropower form the basis of industrial development. Output of the extractive industries includes coal, iron ore, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals. Manufacturing emphasis is centered on heavy industry, with light industry lagging far behind. The use of high-yielding seed varieties, expansion of irrigation, and the heavy use of fertilizers have enabled North Korea to become largely self-sufficient in food production. North Korea, however, is far behind South Korea in economic development and living standards.

GNP: $28 billion, per capita $1,240; real growth rate 3% (1989)

Inflation rate (consumer prices): NA%

Unemployment rate: officially none

Budget: revenues $15.6 billion; expenditures $15.6 billion, including capital expenditures of $NA (1989)

Exports: $2.4 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—minerals, metallurgical products, agricultural products, manufactures; partners—USSR, China, Japan, FRG, Hong Kong, Singapore

Imports: $3.1 billion (f.o.b., 1988); commodities—petroleum, machinery and equipment, coking coal, grain; partners—USSR, Japan, China, FRG, Hong Kong, Singapore

External debt: $2.5 billion hard currency (1989)

Industrial production: growth rate NA%

Electricity: 6,440,000 kW capacity; 40,250 million kWh produced, 1,740 kWh per capita (1989)

Industries: machine building, military products, electric power, chemicals, mining, metallurgy, textiles, food processing

Agriculture: accounts for about 25% of GNP and 36% of work force; principal crops—rice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, pulses; livestock and livestock products—cattle, hogs, pork, eggs; not self-sufficient in grain; fish catch estimated at 1.7 million metric tons in 1987

Aid: Communist countries (1970-88), $1.3 billion

Currency: North Korean won (plural—won); 1 North Korean won (Wn) = 100 chǒn

Exchange rates: North Korean won (Wn) per US$1—2.3 (December 1989), 2.13 (December 1988), 0.94 (March 1987), NA (1986), NA (1985)

Fiscal year: calendar year


Railroads: 4,535 km total operating in 1980; 3,870 km 1.435-meter standard gauge, 665 km 0.762-meter narrow gauge, 159 km double track; 3,175 km electrified; government owned

Highways: about 20,280 km (1980); 98.5% gravel, crushed stone, or earth surface; 1.5% concrete or bituminous

Inland waterways: 2,253 km; mostly navigable by small craft only

Pipelines: crude oil, 37 km

Ports: Ch’ǒngjin, Haeju, Hungnam, Namp’o, Wonsan, Songnim, Najin

Merchant marine: 65 ships (1,000 GRT and over) totaling 437,103 GRT/663,835 DWT; includes 1 passenger, 1 short-sea passenger, 1 passenger-cargo, 56 cargo, 2 petroleum, oils, and lubricants (POL) tanker, 3 bulk, 1 combination bulk

Airports: 50 total, 50 usable; about 30 with permanent-surface runways; fewer than 5 with runways over 3,659 m; 20 with runways 2,440-3,659 m; 30 with runways 1,220-2,439 m

Telecommunications: stations—18 AM, no FM, 11 TV; 200,000 TV sets; 3,500,000 radio receivers; 1 Indian Ocean INTELSAT earth station

Defense Forces

Branches: Ministry of People's Armed Forces (consists of the army, navy, and air force)

Military manpower: males 15-49, 6,054,774; 3,699,088 fit for military service; 223,087 reach military age (18) annually

Defense expenditures: 22% of GNP (1987)