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Introduction

emocratic People's Republic of Korea|the Republic of Korea (South Korea)}}Infobox country|conventional_long_name = Democratic People's Republic of Korea|native_name = |leader_name4 = Kim Yong-nam|leader_title5 = Premier|leader_name5 = Pak Pong-ju|legislature = Supreme People's Assembly|sovereignty_type = Establishment|established_event2 = Liberation|established_date2 = 15 August 1945|established_event3 = |established_date3 = 9 September 1948|area_rank = 98th|area_magnitude = 1 E11|area_km2 = 120,540|area_sq_mi = 46,528|percent_water = 4.87|population_estimate = 24,851,627|population_estimate_rank = 50th|population_estimate_year = 2014|population_census = 24,052,231|GDP_PPP_per_capita_rank =|GDP_nominal = $12.4 billion|GDP_nominal_per_capita_rank =|Gini_year = 2007 |Gini_change = |Gini = 31 |Gini_ref = |HDI_year = 2009|HDI_change = steady |HDI = 0.733 |HDI_ref = holds de facto power in the state and leads the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland of which all political officers are required to be a member. Human Rights Watch and the UN's commission on human rights in North Korea report of severe restrictions on human rights and crimes against humanity 'without parallel in the modern world'. The government rejects these claims.



        Introduction
                History
                        Ancient kingdoms
                                Middle Ages
                                Japanese occupation (1895?1945)
                        Division of Korea (1945)
                        Korean War (1950?1953)
                        Late 20th century
                        Early 21st century
                        Pre-emptive nuclear strike threats of 2013
                Geography
                        Topography
                        Climate
                Administrative divisions
                Government and politics
                        Regime ideology
                        Leadership
                        Controls on political expression
                        Foreign relations
                        Ascribed status
                        Human rights
                        Political prison camps
                        Personality cult
                        Korean reunification
                Military
                        Weapons manufacturing
                        Nuclear capabilities
                Economy
                        Private commerce
                        International trade
                        Tourism
                        Famine
                Crime and law enforcement
                Media and telecommunications
                        Media
                        Radio
                        Telephones and mobiles
                        Internet
                Transportation
                        Rail transport
                        Marine transport
                        Air transport
                Demographics
                        Language
                        Religion
                        Education
                                Higher education
                        Health care
                Culture and arts
                Sports
                See also
                Bibliography


History




Ancient kingdoms

According to legend, Gojoseon was the first Korean kingdom founded in the north of the peninsula, in 2333 BC by Dangun. Gojoseon expanded until it controlled the northern Korean Peninsula and some parts of Manchuria. Gojoseon was first mentioned in Chinese records in the early 7th century BC, and around the 4th century BC, its capital moved to Pyongyang.After many conflicts with the Chinese Han Dynasty, Gojoseon disintegrated. A number of small states emerged in the 2nd and 1st centuries BC, leading to the Proto?Three Kingdoms of Korea period. This saw the kingdoms of Buyeo, Okjeo, Dongye, and the Samhan confederacy occupying the peninsula and southern Manchuria. Of the various states, Goguryeo in the north, and Baekje and Silla in the south, grew to control the peninsula as the Three Kingdoms of Korea. Goguryeo was the first Korean kingdom to adopt Buddhism as the state religion in 372.The kingdom reached its zenith in the 5th century AD, when it controlled central Korea, including the present-day Seoul area. Goguryeo fought numerous wars with China and repulsed a number of Chinese invasions. However, the kingdom fell into decline in the 7th century and after internal power struggles, it was conquered by allied Silla-Tang forces. The unification of the Three Kingdoms by Silla in 676 led to the North South States Period, in which much of the Korean Peninsula was controlled by Silla. The kingdom of Balhae controlled northern areas of Korea and parts of Manchuria between the 7th and 10th centuries.Under the rule of Unified Silla, relationships between Korea and China remained relatively peaceful. Silla weakened under internal strife, and eventually was defeated by King Taejo of Goryeo of the Goryeo Dynasty in 935.Goryeo, with its capital at Gaegyeong in present day North Korea, gradually came to rule the whole Korean peninsula. The Mongol invasions in the 13th century greatly weakened Goryeo. Goryeo became a dependency of the Mongol Empire and was forced to pay tribute. After the Mongol Empire collapsed, Korea experienced political strife and the Goryeo Dynasty was replaced in 1388 by the long-lasting Joseon Dynasty (named in honor of the ancient Gojoseon kingdom).




Middle Ages

The capital was moved south to Hanyang (modern-day Seoul) in 1394. Joseon accepted the nominal suzerainty of China. Internal conflicts within the royal court and civil unrest plagued the kingdom in the years that followed, a situation made worse by the depredations of Japanese pirates.After a largely peaceful 15th century, central authority declined and Korea was plagued again by coastal raids by Japanese pirates. Two Japanese attempts to conquer Korea were repulsed in 1592?1598. In the early 17th century Korea became involved in wars against the rising Manchus on the northern borders.The 17th to 19th centuries were marked by increasing Joseon self-isolation from the outside world, dependence on China for external affairs and occasional internal faction fighting. The Joseon Dynasty tried to isolate from sea traders by closing itself to all nations except China. Slaves, nobi, are estimated to have accounted for about one third of the population of Joseon Korea. By the mid-19th century the Joseon court followed a cautious policy of slow exchange with the West. In 1866, an American-owned armed merchant ship, attempted to open Korea to trade. The ship sailed upriver and became stranded near Pyongyang.After being ordered to leave by Korean officials, American crewmen killed four Korean inhabitants, kidnapped a military officer and engaged in sporadic fighting. The ship was finally set aflame by Korean fireships. In 1871, a US force killed 243 Korean troops on Ganghwa island. This incident is called the Sinmiyangyo in Korea. Five years later, Korea signed a trade treaty with Japan, and in 1882 signed a treaty with the United States, ending centuries of isolationism of the "Hermit Kingdom".




Japanese occupation (1895?1945)

As a result of the Sino-Japanese War (1894?1895), the 1895 Treaty of Shimonoseki stipulated the end of traditional Joseon dependency on China. In 1897, Joseon was renamed the Korean Empire. Russian influence was strong until the Russo-Japanese War (1904?1905), after which Korea became a protectorate of Japan. Korea was then annexed by the Empire of Japan in 1910, leading to 35 years of military rule.After the annexation, Japan tried to suppress Korean traditions and culture and ran the economy primarily for the Japanese benefit. Anti-Japanese, pro-liberation rallies took place nationwide on 1 March 1919 (the 1 March Movement). About 7,000 people were killed during the suppression of this movement. Continued anti-Japanese uprisings, such as the nationwide uprising of students in 1929, led to the strengthening of military rule in 1931. After the outbreaks of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 and World War II Japan stepped up efforts to extinguish Korean culture.The Korean language was banned and Koreans were forced to adopt Japanese names. Worship at Japanese Shinto shrines was made compulsory. The school curriculum was radically modified to eliminate teaching in the Korean language and history. Numerous Korean cultural artifacts were destroyed or taken to Japan. Resistance groups known as Dongnipgun (Liberation Army) operated along the Sino-Korean border, fighting guerrilla warfare against Japanese forces. Some of them took part in allied action in China and parts of South East Asia.During World War II, Koreans at home were forced to support the Japanese war effort. Tens of thousands of men were conscripted into Japan's military. Around 200,000 girls and women, many from Korea, were forced to engage in sexual services, with the euphemism "comfort women".




Division of Korea (1945)

After the surrender of Japan at the end of World War II, Japanese rule was brought to an end. The Korean peninsula was divided into two occupied zones in 1945 along the 38th parallel, with the northern half of the peninsula occupied by the Soviet Union and the southern half by the United States, in accordance with a prior arrangement between the two world powers, where United Nations?supervised elections were intended to be held for the entire peninsula shortly after the war. The Provisional Government of the Republic of Korea, which had operated in exile since 1919, was ignored, mainly because of the American perception that it was too communist-aligned.In August 1945, the Soviet Army established a Soviet Civil Authority in the northern portion of the Korean Peninsula. The Provisional People's Committee for North Korea was set up in February 1946, headed by Kim Il-sung. He introduced sweeping land reforms and nationalized key industries. Talks on the future of Korea were held in Moscow and Seoul but without result. Initial hopes for a unified, independent Korea evaporated as the politics of the Cold War resulted in the establishment of two separate nations with diametrically opposed political, economic, and social systems.There was sporadic unrest in the South. In September 1946, South Korean citizens had risen up against the Allied Military Government. In April 1948, an uprising of the Jeju islanders was violently crushed. The South declared its statehood in May 1948 and two months later the ardent anti-Communist Syngman Rhee became its ruler. The People's Republic of Korea was established in the North on 9 September 1948.The Rhee regime consolidated itself through harsh persecution of all suspected opponents. It conducted a number of military campaigns against left-wing insurgents during which 30,000 to 100,000 people lost their lives. In October 1948, the Yeosu-Suncheon Rebellion occurred and on 24 December 1949, the South Korean Army massacred Mungyeong citizens who were suspected communist sympathizers and affixed the blame on communists.Soviet forces withdrew from the North in 1948 and most American forces withdrew from the South the following year. This dramatically weakened the Southern regime and encouraged Kim Il-sung to consider an invasion plan against the South. War proposals were rejected several times by Joseph Stalin, but along with the development of Soviet nuclear weapons, Mao Zedong's victory in China, and the Chinese indication that it would send troops and other support to North Korea, Stalin approved the invasion which led to the start of the Korean War in June 1950. The Korean War broke out when North Korean forces crossed the 38th parallel to invade the South.




Korean War (1950?1953)

After Korea was divided by the UN, the two Korean powers both tried to control the whole peninsula under their respective governments. This led to escalating border conflicts on the 38th parallel and attempts to negotiate elections for the whole of Korea. These attempts ended when the military of North Korea invaded the South on 25 June 1950, leading to a full-scale war. With endorsement from the United Nations, countries allied with the United States intervened on behalf of South Korea.After rapid advances in a South Korean counterattack, North-allied Chinese forces intervened on behalf of North Korea, shifting the balance of the war. Fighting ended on 27 July 1953, with an armistice that approximately restored the original boundaries between North and South Korea. More than one 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 and set the standard for many later conflicts. It is often viewed as an example of the proxy war, where the two superpowers 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 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 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, Canada, 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 in 2000, in which they promised to seek peaceful reunification. On 4 October 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. On 13 March 2013, North Korea confirmed it ended the 1953 Armistice and declared North Korea "is not restrained by the North-South declaration on non-aggression."




Late 20th century

The relative peace between the South and the North following the armistice 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 in 1983; tunnels were frequently found under the DMZ and war nearly broke out over the Axe Murder Incident at Panmunjeom 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 organizations separately.North Korea remained closely aligned to China and the Soviet Union until the mid-1960s. Recovery from the war was quick ? by 1957 industrial production reached 1949 levels. The last Chinese troops withdrew from the country in October 1958. Until the 1960s, economic growth was higher than in South Korea, and North Korean GDP per capita was equal to that of its southern neighbor as late as 1976. However, by the 1980s the economy had begun to stagnate, and almost completely collapsed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991. Flooding in the mid-1990s exacerbated the economic crisis and led to widespread famine which the government proved incapable of curtailing.In the late 1990s, with the South having transitioned to liberal democracy, the success of the Nordpolitik policy, and power in the North having been taken up by Kim Il-sung's son Kim Jong-il, the two nations began to engage publicly for the first time, with the South declaring its Sunshine Policy.




Early 21st century

By the beginning of the 21st century, the worst of the devastating famine had passed, but North Korea continues to rely heavily on foreign aid for its food supply. In January 2002, U.S. president George W. Bush labeled North Korea part of an "axis of evil" and an "outpost of tyranny". The highest-level contact the government has had with the United States was with U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who made a visit to Pyongyang in 2000,On 13 June 2009, the Associated Press reported that in response to new U.N. 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 U.S. president Bill Clinton met with Kim Jong-il to secure the release of two American journalists, who had been sentenced for entering the country illegally. Current U.S. President Barack Obama's position towards North Korea has been to resist making deals with North Korea for the sake of defusing tension, a policy known as "strategic patience."On 23 November 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. South Korean forces fired back 80 shells, although the results remain unclear.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.On 17 December 2011, the Supreme Leader of North Korea, Kim Jong-il died from a heart attack. His death was reported by the Korean Central News Agency around 08:30 local time with the newscaster announcing his youngest son Kim Jong-un as his successor.The announcement placed South Korean and United States troops on high alert, with many politicians from the global community stating that Kim's death leaves a great deal of uncertainty in the country's future. North Korea was put into a state of semi-alert, with foreigners put under suspicion and asked to leave.




Pre-emptive nuclear strike threats of 2013

On 7 March 2013, North Korea announced its intentions to launch a preemptive nuclear strike against the United States.On 13 March 2013, North Korea confirmed it ended the 1953 Armistice and declared North Korea "is not restrained by the North-South declaration on non-aggression. Confirmation of the severing of the hotline between the North and the South?the last remaining communication link between the two countries at that time?was publicly announced on March 27, 2013, the same date that the hotline was cut off. According to the Korean Central News Agency, a senior North Korean military official stated: "Under the situation where a war may break out any moment, there is no need to keep up North-South military communications" prior to the cessation of the communication channel.On 30 March 2013, the North Korean government declared it was in 'a state of war' with South Korea. A North Korean statement promised "stern physical actions" against "any provocative act". The North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared that rockets were ready to be fired at American bases in the Pacific in response to the U.S. flying two nuclear-capable B2 stealth bombers over the Korean peninsula. The United States warned North Korea that the rapidly escalating military confrontation would lead to further isolation, as The Pentagon declared that the U.S. was "fully capable" of defending itself and its allies against a missile attack. On 4 April 2013 North Korea's state news agency KCNA announced "The moment of explosion is approaching fast. No one can say a war will break out in Korea or not and whether it will break out today or tomorrow."U.S. National Intelligence Director James Clapper speculated that Kim Jong-un is trying to assert his control over North Korea, and has no endgame other than gaining recognition; analysts and other U.S. officials have echoed similar sentiments.Four missile launches were conducted on May 18 and 19, 2013?according to South Korea's defense ministry, three short-range guided missiles landed into the waters off the Korean peninsula on May 18, followed by a fourth on May 19. The missiles did not put any neighboring nations at risk and Pyongyang's actions were widely viewed as an exercise in fear creation to prompt other countries to consider security and aid concessions. The launches occurred during a period when relations were strained between the North and the South, as Pyongyang refused to participate in talks over the closed Kaesong plant.At the start of June 2013, the North Korean government offered to enter into talks that would represent the first dialogue of its kind in many years. The South Korean government immediately accepted the proposal.




Geography

North Korea occupies the northern portion of the Korean Peninsula, lying between latitudes 37° and 43°N, and longitudes 124° and 131°E. It covers an area of . North Korea shares land borders with China and Russia to the north, and borders South Korea along the Korean Demilitarized Zone.To its west are the Yellow Sea and Korea Bay, and to its east lies Japan across the Sea of Japan (East Sea of Korea). The highest point in North Korea is Baekdu Mountain at . The longest river is the Amnok (Yalu) River which flows for .The capital and largest city is Pyongyang; other major cities include Kaesong in the south, Sinuiju in the northwest, Wonsan and Hamhung in the east and Chongjin in the northeast.In 2013, internet users were encouraged to participate in a community based event on Google Maps. These users could use Google Map Maker along with Cartography and Telemetry skills that eventually led to a virtual map of Pyongyang. In addition, the Google Map of North Korea includes political prison camp locations such as Camp 22.




Topography

Early European visitors to Korea remarked that the country resembled "a sea in a heavy gale" because of the many successive mountain ranges that crisscross the peninsula. The Hamgyong Range, located in the extreme northeastern part of the peninsula, has many high peaks including Kwanmobong at approximately .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 Range, which runs along the North Korea?China border. Mount Kumgang, or Diamond Mountain, (approximately ) in the Taebaek Range, 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 and Chaeryong plains, each covering about . 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 earthquakes.




Climate

North Korea has a continental climate with four distinct seasons. 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. Most of the country is classified as type Dwa in the Köppen climate classification scheme, with warm summers and cold, dry winters. In summer there is a short rainy season called changma. On 7 August 2007, the most devastating floods 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




Government and politics




Regime ideology

North Korea is a self-described Juche (self-reliant) state,Research based on North Korea's domestic documents, and popularized in 2009 by Brian R. Myers in his book The Cleanest Race, and later supported by other academics, characterizes North Korean ideology as being a racialist-focused nationalism, and heavily influenced by the racialist outlook of Japan before the end of the Second World War. Charles K. Armstrong criticizes Myers for taking the Japanese comparison too far, suggesting that North Korean ideology is "actually closer to European fascism" than to Imperial Japanese fascism, since Imperial Japan lacked a charismatic leader and mass-mobilizing party.




Leadership

Following Kim Il-sung's death in 1994, he was not replaced but instead received the designation of "Eternal President", and his body was interred in the vast Kumsusan Palace of the Sun in central Pyongyang. According to Cheong Seong-chang of Sejong Institute, speaking on 25 June 2012, there is some possibility that the new leader Kim Jong-un, who has greater visible interest in the welfare of his people and engages in greater interaction with them than his father did, will consider economic reforms and regularization of international relations.




Controls on political expression

Political expression is tightly controlled in North Korea. Supporters of the government who deviate from the government line are subject to reeducation in sections of labor camps set aside for that purpose. Those who are successfully rehabilitated may reassume responsible government positions on their release.Troublesome political dissidents, factionalists and class enemies, who are considered irredeemable are incarcerated together with any close family members or children born in the camp in "Total Control Zones" for a life of hard labor. Labor camps in North Korea are actually areas of the country set aside for that purpose, Camp 22 (also known as Kwan-li-so No.22 Haengyong) is 31 miles by 25 miles with a population of about 50,000. Those who attempt to escape or violate camp rules are executed or sent to a separate prison within the camp. The labor camps are reserved for political prisoners; common criminals are incarcerated in a separate system. There are 6 such areas in the northern and northeastern portion of North Korea.In January 2013, North Korea purchased 16,000 video cameras from China in order to conduct mass surveillance on citizens.




Foreign relations

North Korea has long maintained close relations with the People's Republic of China (PRC) and Russia. The fall of communism 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 southeast Asian allies in Vietnam and Laos, as well as with Cambodia.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 and the destruction of a South Korean airliner have been attributed to North Korea. North Korea has also admitted responsibility for the kidnapping of 13 Japanese citizens in the 1970s and 1980s, five of whom were returned to Japan in 2002. On 11 October 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 27 May 2009, North Korean media declared that the Korean Armistice was no longer valid because the South Korean government's pledge to "definitely join" the Proliferation Security Initiative.To further complicate and intensify strain between the two nations, the sinking of the South Korean warship ''Cheonan'' in March 2010, killing 46 seamen, is as of 20 May 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. On 23 November 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 located in Beijing (Capital of China) rather than in Pyongyang (Capital of DPRK).




Ascribed status

According to North Korean documents and refugee testimonies, There are 3 main classifications and about 50 sub-classifications. According to Kim Il-sung, speaking in 1958, the loyal "core class" constituted 25% of the North Korean population, the "wavering class" 55%, and the "hostile class" 20%. The highest status is accorded to individuals descended from those who participated with Kim Il-sung in the resistance against Japanese occupation during and before World War II and to those who were factory workers, laborers or peasants as of 1950. However the North Korean government claims all citizens are equal and denies any discrimination on the basis of family background.




Human rights

Many international human rights organizations accuse North Korea of having one of the worst human rights records of any nation. Amnesty International reports of severe restrictions on the freedom of association, expression and movement, arbitrary detention, torture and other ill-treatment resulting in death, and executions. The organization demands the closure of prison camps, where 200,000 political prisoners and their families exist in ?the most inhuman conditions imaginable?. North Koreans have been referred to as "some of the world's most brutalized people" by Human Rights Watch, because of the severe restrictions placed on their political and economic freedoms. According to the United Nations Commission of Inquiry the crimes against humanity in North Korea entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.In the 1990s just listening to South Korean radio transmissions could result in capital punishment. Some were also allegedly sent to prison camps for singing a South Korean song.




Political prison camps

The State Security Department of North Korea is responsible for several activities involving law enforcement and allegedly maintain various prison camps. North Korean defectors have testified to the existence of prisons and concentration campsPeople suspected of not being loyal to the regime, e.g. because they are Christians or because they criticized the leadership, are deported to these camps without trial, often with their whole family and mostly without any chance of being released. The International Coalition to Stop Crimes Against Humanity in North Korea (ICNK) estimates that over 10,000 people die in North Korean prison camps every year. According to R.J. Rummel, forced labor, executions, and concentration camps were responsible for over one million deaths in North Korea from 1948 to 1987; others have estimated 400,000 deaths in concentration camps alone.




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 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 "Great Leader" Kim Il-sung, whose personality cult was then being extended to his son, "Dear Leader" Kim Jong-il.Such reports are contested by North Korea researcher Brian R. Myers: "divine powers have never been attributed to either of the two Kims. In fact, the propaganda apparatus in Pyongyang has generally been careful not to make claims that run directly counter to citizens? experience or common sense." He further explains that the state propaganda painted Kim Jong-il as someone whose expertise lay in military matters and that the famine of the 1990s was partially caused by natural disasters out of Kim Jong-il's control.The song "No Motherland Without You" (?????? ?????), 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, and Kim Il-sung Square. Defectors have been quoted as saying that North Korean schools deify both father and son. Following the death of Kim Il-Sung, North Koreans were prostrating and weeping to a bronze statue of him in an organized event; similar scenes were broadcast by state television following the death of Kim Jong-il.Critics maintain this Kim Jong-il personality cult was inherited from his father, Kim Il-sung. Kim Jong-il was 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, was not as extensive as his father's. One point of view is that Kim Jong-il's cult of personality was 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.B. R. Myers also argues that the worship is real and not unlike worship of Adolf Hitler in Nazi Germany. In a more recent event ? on ? a 14-year-old North Korean schoolgirl drowned while attempting to rescue portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il from a flood.




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. In 2000, 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 10 October 1980, proposing a federation between North and South Korea in which the respective political systems would initially remain.




Military

The Ministry of the People's Armed Forces maintains the Korean People's Army (KPA), which serves as the military force of the country. 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. with much of the KPA's forces deployed along the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone. The Korean People's Army operates a very large amount of equipment, including 4,060 tanks, 2,500 APCs, 17,900 artillery pieces, 11,000 air defense guns and some 10,000 MANPADS and anti-tank guided missiles 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 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 strategy, North Korea employs a wide range of unconventional techniques and equipment, such as GPS jammers, stealth paint, midget submarines and human torpedoes, a vast array of chemical and biological weapons, and blinding laser weapons. 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 of July 2006, 1718 of October 2006, and 1874 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 missiles. The launch of a North Korean satellite in December 2012 was seen as a weapons development step by South Korea and its allies and condemned by the UN Security Council.




Weapons manufacturing

In North Korea, weapons are manufactured in roughly 1,800 underground defense industry plants scattered throughout the country. Most of these facilities are located in Chagang Province.




Nuclear capabilities

In the 1990s, North Korea sold medium-sized nuclear capable missiles to Pakistan in a deal facilitated by China. In 2005, North Korea admitted to having nuclear weapons but vowed to close their nuclear programs. The promise of a reduction in nuclear programs has also been reinforced at various Inter-Korean Summit meetings between North and South Korea since the year 2000. However, nuclear plants in North Korea have caused international concern since the 1950s as they are capable of assisting in the development of nuclear arms. International issues involving North Korea's refusal to discontinue nuclear projects have prevented Russia based Gazprom from developing a $2.5 billion pipeline to South Korea through Pyongyang. The revenue generated from Gazprom is intended to provide North Korea with $100 million per year in transit fees.The Japan Meteorological Agency has been able to use technological advances in seismology to detect various nuclear weapons tests.Following North Korea's withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, it was subject to series of sanctions against by the UN Security Council, including Resolution 1695, Resolution 1718, Resolution 1874, and Resolution 2087.




Economy

File:KoreaAtNight20121205 NASA.png|thumb|200px|An image of the Korean Peninsula at night rendered from NASA observations. The disparity in illumination levels is an indication of the differences between the North and South in population and technology. Major industries include military products, machine building, electric power, chemicals, mining, metallurgy, textiles, food processing and tourism. Iron ore and coal production are among the few sectors where North Korea performs significantly better than its southern neighbor ? the DPRK produces about 10 times larger amounts of each resource. In 2005, North Korea was ranked by the FAO as an estimated 10th in the production of fresh fruit




Private commerce

In 1991, North Korea started experimenting with private capitalism in the Rajin-Sonbong Economic Special Zone, and in 2002 also set up the Kaesong Industrial Region. A small number of other areas have been designated as Special Administrative Regions.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 and Pyongyang, 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% 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.




International trade

China and South Korea are the largest trade partners of North Korea. China is North Korea's closest economic partner, accounting for around 70% North Korea's foreign trade in 2011. Chinese statistics for 2013 indicate that North Korean exports to China were nearly $3 billion, with imports of about $3.6 billion. Trade with South Korea declined after Lee Myung-bak was elected President of South Korea in 2008, who reduced trade to put pressure on North Korea over nuclear matters. Trade with South Korea fell from $1.8 billion to $1.1 billion between 2007 and 2013, most of remaining being through the Kaes?ng Industrial Park.In 2000, the 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.European investors have worked alongside North Korea to develop freelance computer programming employment opportunities.




Tourism

Tourism in North Korea is organized by the state-owned Korea International Travel Company. All tourists/visitors are constantly accompanied by one or two guides, who usually speak the tourist's native language. While tourism has increased over the last few years, tourists from Western countries remain few.Most visitors come from China, Russia, and Japan. For citizens of South Korea, it is almost impossible to get a visa to North Korea; they can get entry permits to special tourist areas designated for South Koreans, such as Kaesong. United States citizens were also subject to visa restrictions, allowed to visit only during the yearly Arirang Festival; these restrictions were lifted in January 2010. Fewer than 2,500 United States citizens have visited North Korea since 1953.In the area of Mount Kumgang, the company Hyundai established and operates a special tourist area. Travel to this area is possible for South Koreans and United States citizens, but only in organized groups from South Korea. A special administrative region, the Mount Kumgang Tourist Region, exists for this purpose. 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 not resumed by May 2010, North Korea announced that it would seize South Korean real estate assets in the region.There are hotels throughout the country, the largest currently operating being the Yanggakdo International Hotel.




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. These resulted in a shortfall of staple grain output of more than 1 million tons from what the country needs to meet internationally accepted minimum dietary requirements.In 2006, Amnesty International reported that a national nutrition survey conducted by the North Korean government, the World Food Programme, and UNICEF found that 7% of children were severely malnourished; 37% were chronically malnourished; 23.4% were underweight; and one in three mothers was malnourished and anemic 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, was cited for creating the increased price of basic foods. South Korea would provide 150,000 tons of grain in unmarked bags, and Japan would provide 150,000 tons free and another 150,000 tons 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 (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. However, the World Food Program reported malnutrition and food shortages, but not famine.




Crime and law enforcement

The Ministry of People's Security maintains all law enforcement activities at the local level, which includes police and other initiatives. There is also a State Security Department that operates in a similar way to an "Office of the Interior" located in other countries.




Media and telecommunications




Media

North Korean media are under some of the strictest government control in the world. The North Korean constitution provides for freedom of speech and the press, but the government prohibits the exercise of these rights in practice. In its 2013 report, Reporters without Borders ranked freedom of the press in North Korea as 177th out of 178, above only that of Eritrea. While access to the Internet is tightly controlled, listening to the radio and viewing DVDs is increasing, and receiving television broadcasts from neighboring states is also possible in border areas.A South Korean professor claimed that the spread of cheap, Chinese-made "portable TVs" (EVD players) in North Korea is making it harder for authorities to crack down on citizens watching South Korean-made videos. Uriminzokkiri is a Korean news website that frequently posts propaganda including the United States attack video published in 2013.




Radio

It has been reported that North Korea uses "radio jamming" techniques in order to prevent access to non-nationalist broadcasts. However, a group by the name of Free North Korea Radio conducts numerous activities that focus on providing a free radio station to North Koreans. The broadcasts often include instructions on methods to leave the country and their faction has contact with underground reporters within North Korea. The group primarily consists of numerous North Korean refugees and defectors.




Telephones and mobiles

In North Korea, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications maintains the phone systems within the country and oversees the Postal Service. 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. Someone wanting a phone installed must fill out a form indicating their rank, why he wants a phone, and how he will pay for it.The number of mobile phones in Pyongyang rose from 3,000 in 2002 to approximately 20,000 in 2004.North Korea has a 3G network for cell phones that provides service to over 1 million subscribers as of February 2012. The service is provided by Koryolink, a venture between the North Korean government and Egypt based Orascom Telecom Holding which is owned by Naguib Sawiris. In May 2010, more than 120,000 North Koreans owned mobile phones; this number had increased to 301,000 by September 2010, 660,000 by August 2011, and 900,000 by December 2011. Restrictions have included a ban on cell phones from 2004?2008 and the removal of Internet access from individual phones. According to a report, there are an estimated 1.5 million mobile phone users in North Korea in 2013. From 1 March 2013, Koryolink will authorize full internet access on mobile phones for foreign nationals visiting North Korea.




Internet

North Korea's first Internet café opened in 2002 as a joint venture with a South Korean Internet company, Hoonnet. The former CEO of Hoonnet was Kim Beom-hoon.




Transportation

Two of the few ways to enter North Korea are over the Sino-Korea Friendship Bridge or via Panmunjeom, the former crossing the Amnok River (Yalu) and the latter crossing the Demilitarized Zone.On 13 October 2011 a train from the Russian border settlement of Khasan made an inaugural run to Rajin in North Korea. The 54 kilometer newly repaired link of the Trans-Korean Main Line was the first step in an effort to rebuild the Trans-Korean rail and integrate it into the Trans-Siberian railroad.Cars are relatively rare, but some 70% of households used bicycles, 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 at a facility in Nampo, North Korea. Another local producer of vehicles is Sungri Motor Plant, 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 of track with in standard gauge. 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. However, in order to travel out of Pyongyang, people need an official travel certificate, ID, and a purchased ticket in advance. Because of lack of maintenance on the rail infrastructure and vehicles, the travel time by rail is increasing. It has been reported that the trip from Pyongyang to Kaesong 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 , 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, Wonsan, and Hamhung 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 ocean-going merchant fleet, largely domestically produced, of 68 ships (of at least ), totaling /, which includes 58 cargo ships and 2 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

There are several North Korean Airports, although international air connections are limited. There are regularly scheduled flights from the Pyongyang Sunan International Airport ? north of Pyongyang ? to Moscow, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Bangkok, Beijing, Dalian, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, Shenyang along with seasonal services to Singapore and charter flights from Pyongyang 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, Hamhung, Haeju, Kaesong, Kanggye, Kilju, Nampho, Sinuiju, Samjiyon, Wonsan, and Chongjin.




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, 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 and Burma and slightly lower than Russia. North Korea's total fertility rate is relatively low and stood at 2.0 in 2009, comparable to those of the United States and France.




Language

North Korea shares the Korean language with South Korea. There are dialect differences within both Koreas, but the border between North and South does not represent a major linguistic boundary. Both Koreas share the phonetic writing system called Chosongul in the north and Hangul south of the DMZ. The official Romanization differs in the two countries, with North Korea using a slightly modified McCune-Reischauer system, and the South using the Revised Romanization of Korean. While prevalent in the South, the adoption of modern terms from foreign languages has been limited in North Korea. Hanja (Chinese characters) are no longer used in North Korea (ever since 1949), although still occasionally used in South Korea. The move toward prohibiting both Roman and Chinese-based characters in North Korea has led to the creation of a number of words and phrases not common in the southern half of the peninsula or in Korean communities abroad.




Religion

Both Koreas share a Buddhist and Confucian heritage and a recent history of Christian and Cheondoism ("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 non-religious. 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, 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: 15,460,000 (64.3% of population, the vast majority of which are adherents of the Juche philosophy)
    Cheondoism: 3,245,000 adherents (13.5% of population)
    Buddhism: 1,082,000 adherents (4.5% 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 disappeared in concentration camps, including Francis Hong Yong-ho, bishop of Pyongyang and all monks of Tokwon abbey. 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 and 4,000 Roman Catholics in North Korea.According to a ranking published by Open Doors, 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 50,000?70,000 Christians are detained in North Korean prison camps. Human rights groups such as Amnesty International also have expressed concerns about religious persecution in North Korea.




Education

Education in North Korea is free of charge, According to Shin Dong-hyuk, children imprisoned in concentration camps also receive a form of education.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 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, professional schools, and technical schools. Graduate schools for master's and doctoral 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, both in Pyongyang. 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." There is also a University called the Kim Chaek University of Technology that specializes in information technology and nuclear research.




Health care

North Korea has a national medical service and health insurance system which are offered for free. In 2001 North Korea spent 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 hospitals grew from 285 to 2,401, and the number of clinics ? from 1,020 to 5,644.Among other health problems, many North Korean citizens suffer from the after effects of malnutrition, 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.




Culture and arts

North Korea shares its traditional culture with South Korea, 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.A version of Broinowski's work was screened in Pyongyang, but the director believes that the documentary version of the film will not be allowed into the country.




Sports

In association football, fifteen clubs compete in the DPR Korea League level-one and vie for both the Technical Innovation Contests and the Republic Championship. The national football team, Chollima, competes in the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and, as of 26 May 2010, is ranked 105 by FIFA. The team competed in the FIFA World Cup in 1966 and 2010.In ice hockey, North Korea's men?s team is ranked 43 out of 49 nations and competes in Division II. The women?s team is ranked 21 out of 34 nations and competes in Division II.North Korea is also active in basketball, with a national team that represents the nation in international competitions. In December 2013, former American basketball professional Dennis Rodman visited North Korea to help train the national team after he developed a friendship with President Kim Jong-un during his first visit to the country in February 2013.North Korea has been competing in the Olympics since 1964, and debuted at the summer games in 1972 by taking home five medals, including one gold. To date, North Korea has won a medal at every summer Olympics event in which they have participated. The International Olympic Committee (IOC) code for North Korea is PRK.North Korea boycotted the 1988 Summer Olympics in neighboring Seoul. At the Athens Games in 2004, the North and South marched together in the opening and closing ceremonies under the Unification Flag, but competed separately.Taekwondo is a martial art that originated in Korea. In the 1950s and 1960s, modern rules were standardised and taekwondo became an official Olympic sport in 2000. Other Korean martial arts include taekkyeon, hapkido, tang soo do, kuk sool won, kumdo and subak.A popular sporting event in North Korea is the annual Arirang Festival, known for its mass participation performances that combine gymnastics, music and "backdrop" (coloured sheets of card are held by participants to create large-scale images). The board game Yut is a team sport in North Korea and is televised on the country's television stations.In October 2013, Kim Jong-un introduced a new policy that allows successful athletes to receive luxury apartments in recognition for their achievements. The reward was given to Om Yun-chul, An Kum-ae and Kim Un-guk, who earned Olympic medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics.




See also




Bibliography





 
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