North Korea Geography

North Korea Geography and Population

North Korea (Geography)

North Korea’s population is ethnically very homogeneous, predominantly Korean. Many families were separated at the ceasefire in 1953, and there have been virtually no contacts between the Koreans in North and South Korea since. On the other hand, there is some contact with the ethnic Koreans in Japan, descendants of those who were transferred there during the Japanese occupation of 1910-45. The North Koreans have lived in a very closed society since 1953. They have no possibility of contact with the outside world via radio, television or telephone, and all forms of personal contact, including within the country, are closely monitored. The country is divided into a large number of districts, which at road checks are completely separated from each other. Travel between districts can only take place upon application. All forms of enlightenment and information are under state control and must be characterized by Western eyes as massive indoctrination. The most important element of this is the worship of Kim Il-Sung as the father of the country, as “The Great Leader” and “the source of the country’s glorious victorious, revolutionary development”. In the official propaganda, it is increasingly downplayed that he actually died in 1994. He is embalmed in a magnificent complex, where also his favorite car stands, a Mercedes 600. Also the worship of his son Kim Jong-Il, “The Dear Leader” was of almost religious stature, and it is expected that also Kim Jong-Un, “The Great Successor,” the newest leader of the dynasty Kim Il-Sung founded, will be the subject of extensive cult of personality.

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In the first 10-15 years after the war, a very rapid reconstruction of the country was carried out on the basis of a tight planned economy. In large-scale campaigns, cities were rebuilt, agricultural production expanded, and a number of large industries were established; at the same time, efforts were made to expand the education and health sectors. In the late 1990’s, most of it seems to be in ruins, not least after the country was hit by a series of natural disasters in 1994-97: first extensive floods, then a drought year and in 1997 dike eruptions, which led to the salinization of large agricultural areas. But even before these external circumstances arose, there were problems feeding the population. Agriculture is organized into state and collective farms, which are only weakly mechanized. The form of cultivation is very intensive and labor-intensive with extensive use of natural fertilizers, including compost, as there is insufficient fertilizer production. The main crops are rice and corn.

North Korea has a number of mineral deposits, including large coal reserves, but no known oil sources of significance. The energy supply is completely inadequate and the electricity grid often fails. Industrial production has fallen as it is difficult to maintain the factory equipment that was delivered from the Eastern Bloc. Contributing to the difficulty of industrial development is the lack of currency and the dominant role of the military in society. Very large resources are reserved for the arms industry, which operates in the deepest secrecy; with the experience of the Korean War air bombardments, the main factories and virtually all military installations are built underground. In the 1990’s, North Korea developed short- and medium-range missiles, including for export.

The infrastructure is very weakly developed. Private means of transport are largely unknown in North Korea, and the ambitious public transport plans have largely collapsed, e.g. due to lack of fuel and spare parts. Both in the cities and in the countryside, the traffic picture is completely dominated by people on foot and by the vehicles of the military and the state and party apparatus. For natural geography, see Korea.

North Korea – language

Official language is Korean, which differs in writing from South Korean in that it does not use Chinese characters, but only hangul. The separation between North Korea and South Korea has meant that differences in language use have arisen, but not to an extent that prevents mutual understanding. For culture and traditions of North Korea, please check animalerts.

North Korea – economy

After the Korean War, North Korea was transformed into a planned economic society based on Kim Il-Sung’s juche ideology, which emphasizes the importance of self-sufficiency and independence from the outside world. Until the end of the Cold War, however, North Korea was economically and politically closely linked to China and the Soviet Union in particular, although the country did not participate in, for example, COMECON cooperation.

Like many other socialist countries, North Korea experienced significant economic progress until the mid-1970’s, but since then the country has been characterized by low growth and recession.

Thus, in 1993, the government had to admit for the first time that the objectives of the seven-year plan could not be met, and the period 1994-96 was then declared an official adjustment period, giving high priority to agriculture, light industry and foreign trade.

The recession of these years was not least due to the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 and the death of Kim Il-Sung in 1994, which left the country in an economic and political vacuum.

In 1991, a market economy experiment was started with the establishment of an economic free zone in Rajin-Sonbong. Foreign companies could establish themselves here, but the experiment was not an immediate success and was not further expanded until 1997 with permission for North Koreans to run a private company in the region.

At the same time, a dual exchange rate system was introduced, with the currency, won, being devalued sharply for economic transactions with foreign countries from the free zone, while the official exchange rate was maintained within the country. Pga. However, the socio-economic effects of the improvement in competitiveness are limited.

North Korea maintains a costly military apparatus, and investments in the productive industries have long been neglected. From the mid-1990’s, there has been an almost chronic food shortage; millions survive on aid from the UN and bilateral donors (China, South Korea and the United States), and it is estimated that other millions have died of starvation.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has been repeatedly slashed in return for increased aid; conversely, aid has been suspended in protest against nuclear activities. The country is accused of participating in international drug trafficking.

North Korea has a trade deficit and a large external debt. The main trading partners are China, Thailand, Japan and South Korea. Denmark’s exports to North Korea in 2005 amounted to DKK 67 million. DKK, while imports from there were 11 mill. kr.

North Korea Geography