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North Korea

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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), is a country in eastern Asia, covering the northern half of the peninsula of Korea. To the south its borders South Korea with which it formed a single nation until 1948, while its northern border is predominantly with China, with a small section bordering Russia. It is more commonly known locally as Buk Chosŏn ("North Chosŏn"; 북조선; 北朝鮮). Buk Han ("North Han"; 북한; 北韓) is commonly used in South Korea, as is the revised[?] romanisation of Chosun Minjujui Inmin Gonghwa-guk for the official name.

조선 민주주의 인민 공화국
Chosun Minchu'chui Inmin Konghwa'guk
(In Detail)
National motto: One is sure to win if he believes in and depends upon the people
Official languageKorean
Capital P'yŏngyang
PresidentKim Il Sung¹
Prime ministerHong Song-nam[?]
 - Total
 - % water
Ranked 97th
120,540 km²
 - Total (2002)
 - Density
Ranked 49th
 - Date
From Japan
August 15, 1945
Currency North Korean won[?]
Time zone UTC +9
National anthem A ch'im un pinnara, i kangsan ungum e[?]
Internet TLDNone (.KP is reserved)
Calling Code850
(1) Deceased; Declared "eternal president"

Table of contents

History Main article: History of North Korea

Traditionally said to have been founded in 2333 BC, Korea was divided into the three kingdoms of Baekje[?], Goguryeo, and Silla[?] during the 1st to 7th centuries, of which the latter alone remained. It in turn was replaced by the Goryeo and Joseon[?] dynasties, during which Korea was under extensive Chinese influence and Buddhism and Confucianism became part of Korean life. Known by the 19th century as the Hermit Kingdom because of its reclusive attitude, it was forced to open up at the end of that century, and was annexed by Japan in 1910.

The oppressive Japanese occupation ended after World War II in 1945, after which Korea was occupied by the Soviet Union in north of the 38th parallel and by the United States south of the 38th parallel. Rising tensions between the Soviet Union and the United States led to, in 1948 the establishment of two governments claiming to be the sole government of all of Korea: a communist North and a United States-influenced South. In June 1950 the North invaded the South igniting the Korean War. The United Nations-backed South and the Chinese-backed North eventually reached a stalemate and an armastice was signed in 1953, splitting the peninsula along a demilitarised zone at about the 38th parallel, which had been the original demarcation line.

North Korea was ruled from 1948 by Kim Il Sung until his death in 1994. He was named posthumously "eternal president." North Korea is officially lead by a Prime Minister, but real power lies with his son Kim Jong Il and the military. Despite a detente in international relations, including a historic North-South summit in June 2000, tensions have recently increased in the wake of the resumption of the North's nuclear weapons programme.

Politics Main article: Politics of North Korea

North Korea has a centralised government under the control of the communist Korean Workers' Party[?] (KWP), to which all government officials belong, though a few minor political parties exist in name only. The exact structure of power is somewhat unclear. Following the death of Kim Il Sung, his son, Kim Jong Il, was named General Secretary of the Korean Workers' Party in October 1997, and in 1998, the legislature reconfirmed him as Chairman of the National Defence Commission and declared that position as the "highest office of state."

North Korea's 1972 constitution was amended in late 1992 and again in 1998. The government is led by the prime minister and, in theory, a super cabinet called the Central People's Committee[?] (CPC), the government's top policymaking body headed by the president, who also nominates the other committee members. The CPC makes policy decisions and supervises the cabinet, or State Administration Council[?] (SAC). The SAC is headed by a premier and is the dominant administrative and executive agency.

Officially, the parliament, the Supreme People's Assembly (최고인민회의 ; Ch'oego Inmin Hoeui), is the highest organ of state power. Its 687 members are elected every 4 years by popular vote. Usually only two meetings are held annually, each lasting a few days, though it mostly ratifies decisions made by the ruling KWP. A standing committee elected by the Assembly performs legislative functions when the Assembly is not in session.

Provinces and Cities Main articles: Provinces and Special cities of North Korea

North Korea consists of 9 provinces (do, singular and plural; ; ) and 7 special cities (si, singular and plural; 시; 市), marked by a *:

Geography Main article: Geography of North Korea

Korea forms a peninsula that extends some 1,100 km from the Asian mainland, flanked by the Yellow Sea and the Korea Bay[?] to the west and the Sea of Japan (a disputed name, called the East Sea by Koreans) to the east, and terminated by the Korea Strait[?] and the East China Sea to the south. The northern landscape consists mostly of hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys in the north and east, coastal plains are found most prominently in the west. The highest point in Korea is the Paektu-san at 2,744 m. Major rivers include the Tumen and the Yalu that form the northern border with Chinese Manchuria.

The local climate is relatively temperate, with precipitation heavier in summer during a short rainy season called jangma, and winters that can be bitterly cold on occasion. North Korea's capital and largest city is P'yongyang, other major cities include Kaesong[?] in the south, Sinuiju[?] in the northwest, Wonsan[?] and Hamhung[?] in the east and Chongjin[?] in the north.

Economy Main article: Economy of North Korea

North Korea ranks among the world's most centrally planned and isolated economies. The resulting economic distortions and the government's reluctance to publicise economic data limit the amount of reliable information available. Publicly-owned industry produces nearly all manufactured goods, and the regime continues to devote its focus on heavy and military industries at the expense of light and consumer industries.

Economic conditions remain stagnant at best and the country's deepening economic slide has been fueled by acute energy shortages worsened by the breakdown of the Agreed Framework under KEDO, poorly maintained and aging industrial facilities, and a lack of new investment. The agricultural outlook, though slightly improved over previous years, remains weak. The combined effects of serious fertiliser shortages, successive natural disasters, and structural constraints - such as marginal arable land and a short growing season - have reduced staple grain output to more than 1 million tons less than what the country needs to meet even minimum international requirements.

The steady flow of international food aid has been critical in meeting the population's basic food needs. The impact of other forms of humanitarian assistance such as medical supplies and agricultural assistance largely has been limited to local areas. Even with aid, malnutrition rates are among the world's highest and estimates of mortality range in the hundreds of thousands as a direct result of starvation or famine-related diseases.

Demographics Main article: Demographics of North Korea

North Korea's population is one of the most ethnically and linguistically homogenous in the world, with only very small Chinese and Japanese communities. The Korean language is not a member of a wider linguistic family, though links to Japanese and Altaic languages are being considered. The Korean writing system, Hangeul, was invented in the 15th century by King Sejong to replace the system of borrowed Chinese characters, known as Hanja in Korea, which are no longer officially in use in the North. North Korea continues to use the McCune-Reischauer[?] romanisation of Korean, in contrast to the South's revised[?] version.

Korea is a traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist country, with some Christian and the traditional Chondogyo[?] ("Heavenly Way") minorities present, though autonomous religious activities are now almost nonexistent.

Culture Main article: Culture of North Korea[?]

An official escort/guide is compulsory when visiting the country. Citizens of the US and South Korea may or may not be allowed to visit the country, depending on the diplomatic relations.

DateEnglish NameLocal NameRemarks
February 16Kim Jong Il's Birthday

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