North Korea vs. South Korea


North KoreaSouth Korea
Background"An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula. Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Soviet-sponsored communist control. After failing in the Korean War (1950-53) to conquer the US-backed Republic of Korea (ROK) in the southern portion by force, North Korea (DPRK), under its founder President KIM Il Sung, adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic ""self-reliance"" as a check against outside influence. The DPRK demonized the US as the ultimate threat to its social system through state-funded propaganda, and molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang's control. KIM Il Sung's son, KIM Jong Il, was officially designated as his father's successor in 1980, assuming a growing political and managerial role until the elder KIM's death in 1994. KIM Jong Un was publicly unveiled as his father's successor in 2010.
Following KIM Jong Il's death in 2011, KIM Jong Un quickly assumed power and has now taken on most of his father's former titles and duties. After decades of economic mismanagement and resource misallocation, the DPRK since the mid-1990s has faced chronic food shortages. In recent years, the North’s domestic agricultural production has increased, but still falls far short of producing sufficient food to provide for its entire population. The DPRK began to ease restrictions to allow semi-private markets, starting in 2002, but has made few other efforts to meet its goal of improving the overall standard of living. North Korea's history of regional military provocations; proliferation of military-related items; long-range missile development; WMD programs including tests of nuclear devices in 2006, 2009, 2013, and 2016; and massive conventional armed forces are of major concern to the international community and have limited the DPRK’s international engagement, particularly economically. The regime abides by a policy calling for the simultaneous development of its nuclear weapons program and its economy.
"An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. In 1910, Tokyo formally annexed the entire Peninsula. Korea regained its independence following Japan's surrender to the US in 1945. After World War II, a democratic-based government (Republic of Korea, ROK) was set up in the southern half of the Korean Peninsula while a communist-style government was installed in the north (Democratic People's Republic of Korea, DPRK). During the Korean War (1950-53), US troops and UN forces fought alongside ROK soldiers to defend South Korea from a DPRK invasion supported by China and the Soviet Union. A 1953 armistice split the Peninsula along a demilitarized zone at about the 38th parallel. PARK Chung-hee took over leadership of the country in a 1961 coup. During his regime, from 1961 to 1979, South Korea achieved rapid economic growth, with per capita income rising to roughly 17 times the level of North Korea.
South Korea held its first free presidential election under a revised democratic constitution in 1987, with former ROK Army general ROH Tae-woo winning a close race. In 1993, KIM Young-sam (1993-98) became the first civilian president of South Korea's new democratic era. President KIM Dae-jung (1998-2003) won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2000 for his contributions to South Korean democracy and his ""Sunshine"" policy of engagement with North Korea. President PARK Geun-hye, daughter of former ROK President PARK Chung-hee, took office in February 2013 as South Korea's first female leader. In December 2016, the National Assembly passed an impeachment motion against President PARK over her alleged involvement in a corruption and influence-peddling scandal, immediately suspending her presidential authorities and establishing Prime Minister HWANG Kyo-ahn as Acting President. The impeachment was upheld in March 2017, triggering an early presidential election on 9 May 2017. South Korea will host the 2018 Winter Olympic Games. Discord with North Korea has permeated inter-Korean relations for much of the past decade, highlighted by the North's attacks on a South Korean ship and island in 2010, the exchange of artillery fire across the DMZ, and multiple nuclear and missile tests in 2016, and missile tests in 2017.


North KoreaSouth Korea
LocationEastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea
Eastern Asia, southern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Sea of Japan and the Yellow Sea
Geographic coordinates40 00 N, 127 00 E
37 00 N, 127 30 E
Map referencesAsia
Areatotal: 120,538 sq km
land: 120,408 sq km
water: 130 sq km
total: 99,720 sq km
land: 96,920 sq km
water: 2,800 sq km
Area - comparativeslightly larger than Virginia; slightly smaller than Mississippi
slightly smaller than Pennsylvania; slightly larger than Indiana
Land boundariestotal: 1,607 km
border countries (3): China 1,352 km, South Korea 237 km, Russia 18 km
total: 237 km
border countries (1): North Korea 237 km
Coastline2,495 km
2,413 km
Maritime claimsterritorial sea: 12 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
note: military boundary line 50 nm in the Sea of Japan and the exclusive economic zone limit in the Yellow Sea where all foreign vessels and aircraft without permission are banned
territorial sea: 12 nm; between 3 nm and 12 nm in the Korea Strait
contiguous zone: 24 nm
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
continental shelf: not specified
Climatetemperate, with rainfall concentrated in summer; long, bitter winters
temperate, with rainfall heavier in summer than winter; cold winters
Terrainmostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; wide coastal plains in west, discontinuous in east
mostly hills and mountains; wide coastal plains in west and south
Elevation extremesmean elevation: 600 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Paektu-san 2,744 m
mean elevation: 282 m
elevation extremes: lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Halla-san 1,950 m
Natural resourcescoal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower
coal, tungsten, graphite, molybdenum, lead, hydropower potential
Land useagricultural land: 21.8%
arable land 19.5%; permanent crops 1.9%; permanent pasture 0.4%
forest: 46%
other: 32.2% (2011 est.)
agricultural land: 18.1%
arable land 15.3%; permanent crops 2.2%; permanent pasture 0.6%
forest: 63.9%
other: 18% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land14,600 sq km (2012)
7,780 sq km (2012)
Natural hazardslate spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall
volcanism: Changbaishan (elev. 2,744 m) (also known as Baitoushan, Baegdu or P'aektu-san), on the Chinese border, is considered historically active
occasional typhoons bring high winds and floods; low-level seismic activity common in southwest
volcanism: Halla (elev. 1,950 m) is considered historically active although it has not erupted in many centuries
Environment - current issueswater pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water; waterborne disease; deforestation; soil erosion and degradation
air pollution in large cities; acid rain; water pollution from the discharge of sewage and industrial effluents; drift net fishing
Environment - international agreementsparty to: Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
signed, but not ratified: Law of the Sea
party to: Antarctic-Environmental Protocol, Antarctic-Marine Living Resources, Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Endangered Species, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Law of the Sea, Marine Dumping, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution, Tropical Timber 83, Tropical Timber 94, Wetlands, Whaling
signed, but not ratified: none of the selected agreements
Geography - notestrategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated and sparsely populated
strategic location on Korea Strait
Population distributionpopulation concentrated in the plains and lowlands; least populated regions are the mountainous provinces adjacent to the Chinese border; largest concentrations are in the western provinces, particularly the municipal district of Pyongyang, and around Hungnam and Wonsan in the east
with approximately 70% of the country considered mountainous, the country's population is primarily concentrated in the lowland areas, where density is quite high; Gyeonggi Province in the northwest, which surrounds the capital and contains Incheon, is the most densely populated province; Gangwon in the northeast is the least populated


North KoreaSouth Korea
Population25,115,311 (July 2016 est.)
50,924,172 (July 2016 est.)
Age structure0-14 years: 20.97% (male 2,678,638/female 2,588,744)
15-24 years: 15.88% (male 2,009,360/female 1,977,942)
25-54 years: 44.22% (male 5,567,682/female 5,537,077)
55-64 years: 9.19% (male 1,090,739/female 1,218,406)
65 years and over: 9.74% (male 840,003/female 1,606,720) (2016 est.)
0-14 years: 13.45% (male 3,535,137/female 3,315,510)
15-24 years: 13.08% (male 3,515,779/female 3,146,084)
25-54 years: 45.93% (male 12,008,399/female 11,379,261)
55-64 years: 14.01% (male 3,521,569/female 3,611,481)
65 years and over: 13.53% (male 2,918,156/female 3,972,796) (2016 est.)
Median agetotal: 33.8 years
male: 32.3 years
female: 35.4 years (2016 est.)
total: 41.2 years
male: 39.7 years
female: 42.8 years (2016 est.)
Population growth rate0.53% (2016 est.)
0.53% (2016 est.)
Birth rate14.6 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
8.4 births/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Death rate9.3 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
5.8 deaths/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Net migration rate0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
2.6 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2016 est.)
Sex ratioat birth: 1.05 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.03 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.9 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.53 male(s)/female
total population: 0.94 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
at birth: 1.07 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.07 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.12 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.06 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.98 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.71 male(s)/female
total population: 1 male(s)/female (2016 est.)
Infant mortality ratetotal: 22.9 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 25.4 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 20.2 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
total: 3 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 3.2 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 2.8 deaths/1,000 live births (2016 est.)
Life expectancy at birthtotal population: 70.4 years
male: 66.6 years
female: 74.5 years (2016 est.)
total population: 82.4 years
male: 79.3 years
female: 85.8 years (2016 est.)
Total fertility rate1.96 children born/woman (2016 est.)
1.25 children born/woman (2016 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rateNA
Nationalitynoun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
Ethnic groupsracially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese
Religionstraditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way)
note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom
Protestant 19.7%, Buddhist 15.5%, Catholic 7.9%, none 56.9% (2015 est.)
HIV/AIDS - deathsNA
Korean, English (widely taught in junior high and high school)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2015)
total: 17 years
male: 17 years
female: 16 years (2013)
Education expendituresNA
4.6% of GDP (2012)
Urbanizationurban population: 60.9% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.75% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
urban population: 82.5% of total population (2015)
rate of urbanization: 0.66% annual rate of change (2010-15 est.)
Drinking water sourceimproved:
urban: 99.9% of population
rural: 99.4% of population
total: 99.7% of population
urban: 0.1% of population
rural: 0.6% of population
total: 0.3% of population (2015 est.)
urban: 99.7% of population
rural: 87.9% of population
total: 97.8% of population
urban: 0.3% of population
rural: 12.1% of population
total: 2.2% of population (2012 est.)
Sanitation facility accessimproved:
urban: 87.9% of population
rural: 72.5% of population
total: 81.9% of population
urban: 12.1% of population
rural: 27.5% of population
total: 18.1% of population (2015 est.)
urban: 100% of population
rural: 100% of population
total: 100% of population
urban: 0% of population
rural: 0% of population
total: 0% of population (2015 est.)
Major cities - populationPYONGYANG (capital) 2.863 million (2015)
SEOUL (capital) 9.774 million; Busan (Pusan) 3.216 million; Incheon (Inch'on) 2.685 million; Daegu (Taegu) 2.244 million; Daejon (Taejon) 1.564 million; Gwangju (Kwangju) 1.536 million (2015)
Maternal mortality rate82 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
11 deaths/100,000 live births (2015 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight15.2% (2012)
0.6% (2011)
Physicians density2.78 physicians/1,000 population (2011)
2.23 physicians/1,000 population (2014)
Hospital bed density13.2 beds/1,000 population (2012)
10.3 beds/1,000 population (2009)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate2.5% (2014)
6.3% (2014)
Contraceptive prevalence rate70.6%
note: percent of women aged 20-49 (2010)
note: percent of women aged 15-44 (2009)
Dependency ratiostotal dependency ratio: 44.3
youth dependency ratio: 30.5
elderly dependency ratio: 13.8
potential support ratio: 7.3 (2015 est.)
total dependency ratio: 37.2
youth dependency ratio: 19.2
elderly dependency ratio: 18
potential support ratio: 5.6 (2015 est.)


North KoreaSouth Korea
Country name"conventional long form: Democratic People's Republic of Korea
conventional short form: North Korea
local long form: Choson-minjujuui-inmin-konghwaguk
local short form: Choson
abbreviation: DPRK
etymology: derived from the Chinese name for Goryeo, which was the Korean dynasty that united the peninsula in the 10th century A.D.; the North Korean name ""Choson"" means ""[Land of the] Morning Calm""
"conventional long form: Republic of Korea
conventional short form: South Korea
local long form: Taehan-min'guk
local short form: Han'guk
abbreviation: ROK
etymology: derived from the Chinese name for Goryeo, which was the Korean dynasty that united the peninsula in the 10th century A.D.; the South Korean name ""Han'guk"" means ""Land of the Han,"" where ""han"" may have its origins in the native root for ""great [leader]"" (similar to the title ""khan"")
Government typecommunist state
presidential republic
Capitalname: Pyongyang
geographic coordinates: 39 01 N, 125 45 E
time difference: UTC+8.5 (13.5 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
note: on 15 August 2015, North Korea reverted to UTC+8.5, a time zone that had been observed during pre-colonial times
name: Seoul; note - Sejong, located some 120 km (75 mi) south of Seoul, is being developed as a new capital
geographic coordinates: 37 33 N, 126 59 E
time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)
Administrative divisions9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 2 cities (si, singular and plural)
provinces: Chagang, Hambuk (North Hamgyong), Hamnam (South Hamgyong), Hwangbuk (North Hwanghae), Hwangnam (South Hwanghae), Kangwon, P'yongbuk (North Pyongan), P'yongnam (South Pyongan), Ranggang
cities: P'yongyang, Rason
note: Rason is sometimes designated as a special city and P'yongyang as a capital city
9 provinces (do, singular and plural), 6 metropolitan cities (gwangyeoksi, singular and plural), 1 special city (teugbyeolsi), and 1 special self-governing city (teukbyeoljachisi)
provinces: Chungbuk (North Chungcheong), Chungnam (South Chungcheong), Gangwon, Gyeongbuk (North Gyeongsang), Gyeonggi, Gyeongnam (South Gyeongsang), Jeju, Jeonbuk (North Jeolla), Jeonnam (South Jeolla)
metropolitan cities: Busan (Pusan), Daegu (Taegu), Daejeon (Taejon), Gwangju (Kwangju), Incheon (Inch'on), Ulsan
special city: Seoul
special self-governing city: Sejong
Independence15 August 1945 (from Japan)
15 August 1945 (from Japan)
National holidayFounding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), 9 September (1948)
Liberation Day, 15 August (1945)
Constitutionprevious 1948, 1972; latest adopted 1998 (during KIM Jong Il era); revised 2009, 2012, 2013 (2016)
effective 17 July 1948; amended many times, last in 1987 (2017)
Legal systemcivil law system based on the Prussian model; system influenced by Japanese traditions and Communist legal theory
mixed legal system combining European civil law, Anglo-American law, and Chinese classical thought
Suffrage17 years of age; universal
19 years of age; universal
Executive branchchief of state: KIM Jong Un (since 17 December 2011)
head of government: Premier PAK Pong Ju (since 2 April 2013); Vice Premiers JON Kwant Ho (since 17 January 2017), RI Ju O (since 29 June 2016), RI Ryong Nam (since 29 June 2016), KO In Ho (since 29 June 2016), IM Chol Ung (since 29 May 2014), KIM Tok Hun (since 19 June 2013), RI Mu Yong (since 31 May 2011), RO Tu Chol (since 3 September 2003)
cabinet: Cabinet or Naegak members appointed by the Supreme People's Assembly except the Minister of People's Armed Forces
elections/appointments: chief of state and premier indirectly elected by the Supreme People's Assembly; election last held on 9 March 2014 (next election NA)
election results: KIM Jong Un elected unopposed
note: the Korean Workers' Party continues to list deceased leaders KIM Il Sung and KIM Jong Il as Eternal President and Eternal General Secretary respectively
chief of state: President MOON Jae-in (since 10 May 2017); note - President PARK Geun-hye (since 25 February 2013) was impeached by the National Assembly on 9 December 2016; PARK's impeachment was upheld by the Constitutional Court and she was removed from office on 9 March 2017
head of government: Prime Minister LEE Nak-yon (since 1 June 2017); Deputy Prime Ministers YOO Il-ho (since 13 January 2016), LEE Joon-sik (since 13 January 2016)
cabinet: State Council appointed by the president on the prime minister's recommendation
elections/appointments: president directly elected by simple majority popular vote for a single 5-year term; election last held on 9 May 2017 (next to be held in 2022); prime minister appointed by president with consent of National Assembly
election results: MOON Jae-in elected president; percent of vote - MOON Jae-in (DP) 41.1%, HONG Joon-pyo (LKP) 25.5%, AHN Cheol-soo (PP) 21.4%, other 12.0%
Legislative branchdescription: unicameral Supreme People's Assembly or Ch'oego Inmin Hoeui (687 seats; members directly elected by absolute majority vote to serve 5-year terms); note - the Korean Workers' Party selects all candidates
elections: last held on 9 March 2014 (next to be held in March 2019)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - NA; ruling party approves a list of candidates who are elected without opposition; a token number of seats are reserved for minor parties
description: unicameral National Assembly or Kuk Hoe (300 seats; 246 members directly elected in single-seat constituencies by simple majority vote and 54 directly elected in a single national constituency by proportional representation vote; members serve 4-year terms)
elections: last held on 13 April 2016 (next to be held in 2020)
election results: percent of vote by party - NFP 33.5%, PP 26.7%, MPK 25.5%, JP 7.2%, other 7.1%; seats by party - MPK 123, NFP 122, PP 38, JP 6, independent 11
note: seats by party as of May 2017 - DP 120, LKP 107, PP 40, BP 20, JP 6, Saenuri Party 1, independent 5
Judicial branch"highest court(s): Supreme Court or Central Court (consists of the chief justice and 2 ""People's Assessors"" and for some cases, 3 judges)
judge selection and term of office: judges elected by the Supreme People's Assembly for 5-year terms
subordinate courts: provincial, municipal, military, special courts; people' courts (lowest level)
highest court(s): Supreme Court of South Korea (consists of a chief justice and 13 justices); Constitutional Court (consists of a court head and 8 justices)
judge selection and term of office: Supreme Court chief justice appointed by the president with the consent of the National Assembly; other justices appointed by the president upon the recommendation of the chief justice and consent of the National Assembly; position of the chief justice is a 6-year non-renewable term; other justices serve 6-year renewable terms; Constitutional Court justices appointed - 3 by the president, 3 by the National Assembly, and 3 by the Supreme Court chief justice; court head serves until retirement at age 70, while other justices serve 6-year renewable terms with mandatory retirement at age 65
subordinate courts: High Courts; District Courts; Branch Courts (organized under the District Courts); specialized courts for family and administrative issues
Political parties and leadersmajor party: Korean Workers' Party or KWP [KIM Jong Un]
minor parties: Chondoist Chongu Party (under KWP control)
Social Democratic Party [KIM Yong Dae] (under KWP control)
Bareun Party or BP (split from the then NFP in January 2017) [JOO Ho-young]
Democratic Party or DP [CHOO Mi-ae] (renamed from Minjoo Party of Korea or MPK in October 2016; formerly New Politics Alliance for Democracy or NPAD, which was a merger of the Democratic Party or DP (formerly DUP) [KIM Han-gil] and the New Political Vision Party or NPVP [AHN Cheol-soo] in March 2014)
Justice Party [SIM Sang-jeong]
Liberty Korea Party or LKP (formerly the New Frontier Party (NFP) or Saenuri and before that the Grand National Party) [CHUNG Woo-taik, interim leader]
People's Party or PP [PARK Jie-won]
Saenuri Party (split from Liberty Korea Party in April 2017)
Political pressure groups and leadersnone
Christian Council of Korea
Citizen's Coalition for Economic Justice
Federation of Korean Trade Unions
Korea Women's Association United
Korea Women's Hotline
Korean Confederation of Trade Unions
Korean Veterans' Association
Lawyers for a Democratic Society
National Council of Churches in Korea
People's Solidarity for Participatory Democracy
ADB, AfDB (nonregional member), APEC, Arctic Council (observer), ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), Australia Group, BIS, CD, CICA, CP, EAS, EBRD, FAO, FATF, G-20, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICCt, ICRM, IDA, IEA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, ITUC (NGOs), LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSTAH, NEA, NSG, OAS (observer), OECD, OPCW, OSCE (partner), Pacific Alliance (observer), Paris Club (associate), PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SICA (observer), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNMOGIP, UNOCI, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the USnone; North Korea has a Permanent Mission to the UN in New York
chief of mission: Ambassador AHN Ho-young (since 7 June 2013)
chancery: 2450 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 939-5600
FAX: [1] (202) 797-0595
consulate(s) general: Agana (Guam), Anchorage (AK), Atlanta, Boston, Chicago, Honolulu, Houston, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Seattle
Diplomatic representation from the USnone; note - Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang represents the US as consular protecting power
chief of mission: Ambassador (vacant); Charge d'Affaires Marc KNAPPER (since 20 January 2017)
embassy: 188 Sejong-daero, Jongno-gu, Seoul 110-710
telephone: [82] (2) 397-4114
FAX: [82] (2) 725-0152
mailing address: US Embassy Seoul, Unit
Flag descriptionthree 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; the broad red band symbolizes revolutionary traditions; the narrow white bands stand for purity, strength, and dignity; the blue bands signify sovereignty, peace, and friendship; the red star represents socialism
white with a red (top) and blue yin-yang symbol in the center; there is a different black trigram from the ancient I Ching (Book of Changes) in each corner of the white field; the South Korean national flag is called Taegukki; white is a traditional Korean color and represents peace and purity; the blue section represents the negative cosmic forces of the yin, while the red symbolizes the opposite positive forces of the yang; each trigram (kwae) denotes one of the four universal elements, which together express the principle of movement and harmony
National anthem"name: ""Aegukka"" (Patriotic Song)
lyrics/music: PAK Se Yong/KIM Won Gyun
note: adopted 1947; both North Korea's and South Korea's anthems share the same name and have a vaguely similar melody but have different lyrics; the North Korean anthem is also known as ""Ach'imun pinnara"" (Let Morning Shine)
"name: ""Aegukga"" (Patriotic Song)
lyrics/music: YUN Ch'i-Ho or AN Ch'ang-Ho/AHN Eaktay
note: adopted 1948, well-known by 1910; both North Korea's and South Korea's anthems share the same name and have a vaguely similar melody but have different lyrics
International law organization participationhas not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; accepts ICCt jurisdiction
National symbol(s)red star, chollima (winged horse); national colors: red, white, blue
taegeuk (yin yang symbol), Hibiscus syriacus (Rose of Sharon); national colors: red, white, blue, black
Citizenshipcitizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of North Korea
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: unknown
citizenship by birth: no
citizenship by descent only: at least one parent must be a citizen of South Korea
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: 5 years


North KoreaSouth Korea
Economy - overviewNorth Korea, one of the world's most centrally directed and least open economies, faces chronic economic problems. Industrial capital stock is nearly beyond repair as a result of years of underinvestment, shortages of spare parts, and poor maintenance. Large-scale military spending and development of its ballistic missile and nuclear program severely draws off resources needed for investment and civilian consumption. Industrial and power outputs have stagnated for years at a fraction of pre-1990 levels. Frequent weather-related crop failures aggravated chronic food shortages caused by on-going systemic problems, including a lack of arable land, collective farming practices, poor soil quality, insufficient fertilization, and persistent shortages of tractors and fuel.

The mid 1990s were marked by severe famine and widespread starvation. Significant food aid was provided by the international community through 2009. Since that time, food assistance has declined significantly. In the last few years, domestic corn and rice production has been somewhat better, although domestic production does not fully satisfy demand. A large portion of the population continues to suffer from prolonged malnutrition and poor living conditions. Since 2002, the government has allowed semi-private markets to begin selling a wider range of goods, allowing North Koreans to partially make up for diminished public distribution system rations. It also implemented changes in the management process of communal farms in an effort to boost agricultural output.

In December 2009, North Korea carried out a redenomination of its currency, capping the amount of North Korean won that could be exchanged for the new notes, and limiting the exchange to a one-week window. A concurrent crackdown on markets and foreign currency use yielded severe shortages and inflation, forcing Pyongyang to ease the restrictions by February 2010. In response to the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan and the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, South Korea’s government cut off most aid, trade, and bilateral cooperation activities. In February 2016, South Korea ceased its remaining bilateral economic activity by closing the Kaesong Industrial Complex in response to North Korea’s fourth nuclear test a month earlier. This nuclear test and another in September 2016 resulted in two United Nations Security Council Resolutions that targeted North Korea’s foreign currency earnings, particularly coal and other mineral exports. Over the last decade, China has been North Korea’s primary trading partner.

The North Korean government continues to stress its goal of improving the overall standard of living, but has taken few steps to make that goal a reality for its populace. In 2016, the regime used two mass mobilizations — one totaling 70 days and another 200 days — to spur the population to increase production and complete construction projects quickly. The regime released a five-year economic development strategy in May 2016 that outlined plans for promoting growth across sectors. Firm political control remains the government’s overriding concern, which likely will inhibit formal changes to North Korea’s current economic system.
South Korea over the past four decades has demonstrated incredible economic growth and global integration to become a high-tech industrialized economy. In the 1960s, GDP per capita was comparable with levels in the poorer countries of Africa and Asia. In 2004, South Korea joined the trillion-dollar club of world economies.

A system of close government and business ties, including directed credit and import restrictions, initially made this success possible. The government promoted the import of raw materials and technology at the expense of consumer goods and encouraged savings and investment over consumption.

The Asian financial crisis of 1997-98 exposed longstanding weaknesses in South Korea's development model, including high debt/equity ratios and massive short-term foreign borrowing. GDP plunged by 7% in 1998, and then recovered by 9% in 1999-2000. South Korea adopted numerous economic reforms following the crisis, including greater openness to foreign investment and imports. Growth moderated to about 4% annually between 2003 and 2007.

South Korea's export-focused economy was hit hard by the 2008 global economic downturn, but quickly rebounded in subsequent years, reaching over 6% growth in 2010. The US-Korea Free Trade Agreement was ratified by both governments in 2011 and went into effect in March 2012. Between 2012 and 2016, the economy experienced slow growth – 2%-3% per year - due to sluggish domestic consumption, a drop in foreign demand for South Korean exports, increased competition from regional rivals such as China and Japan, and declining investment. The administration in 2016 faced the challenge of balancing heavy reliance on exports with domestic restructuring efforts in the country’s shipbuilding and shipping industries.

The South Korean economy's short-term challenges include a potential loss of consumer confidence due to issues with its mobile phone industry, as well as uncertainty stemming from a tumultuous domestic political situation. In the long-term, South Korea must deal with a rapidly aging population, inflexible labor market, dominance of large conglomerates (chaebols), and the heavy reliance on exports, which comprise more than 40% of GDP. South Korea’s low overall unemployment rate masks problems with high youth unemployment, low worker productivity, high labor underutilization, and low female participation in the workforce. The government has tried to implement structural reforms, but continues to face significant headwind from vested interests. Finally, the country could eventually face an unprecedented financial burden in the event the unification of the Korean Peninsula were to occur.
GDP (purchasing power parity)$40 billion (2015 est.)
$40 billion (2014 est.)
$40 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2014 US dollars;
North Korea does not publish reliable National Income Accounts data; the data shown are derived from purchasing power parity (PPP) GDP estimates for North Korea that were made by Angus MADDISON in a study conducted for the OECD; his figure for 1999 was extrapolated to 2011 using estimated real growth rates for North Korea's GDP and an inflation factor based on the US GDP deflator; the results were rounded to the nearest $10 billion.
$1.934 trillion (2016 est.)
$1.881 trillion (2015 est.)
$1.83 trillion (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - real growth rate-1.1% (2015 est.)
1% (2014 est.)
1.1% (2013 est.)
2.8% (2016 est.)
2.8% (2015 est.)
3.3% (2014 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)$1,700 (2015 est.)
$1,800 (2014 est.)
$1,800 (2013 est.)
note: data are in 2014 US dollars
$37,900 (2016 est.)
$37,100 (2015 est.)
$36,300 (2014 est.)
note: data are in 2016 dollars
GDP - composition by sectoragriculture: 21.6%
industry: 46.2%
services: 32.2% (2015 est.)
agriculture: 2.2%
industry: 38.6%
services: 59.2% (2016 est.)
Population below poverty lineNA%
12.5% (2015 est.)
Household income or consumption by percentage sharelowest 10%: NA%
highest 10%: NA%
lowest 10%: 6.8%
highest 10%: 48.5% (2015 est.)
Inflation rate (consumer prices)NA%
1% (2016 est.)
0.7% (2015 est.)
Labor force14 million
note: estimates vary widely (2014 est.)
26.24 million (2016 est.)
Labor force - by occupationagriculture: 37%
industry and services: 63% (2008 est.)
agriculture: 4.9%
industry: 24.1%
services: 71% (2016 est.)
Unemployment rate25.6% (2013 est.)
25.5% (2012 est.)
3.7% (2016 est.)
3.6% (2015 est.)
Budgetrevenues: $3.2 billion
expenditures: $3.3 billion (2007 est.)
revenues: $297.3 billion
expenditures: $286.3 billion (2016 est.)
Industriesmilitary products; machine building, electric power, chemicals; mining (coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals), metallurgy; textiles, food processing; tourism
electronics, telecommunications, automobile production, chemicals, shipbuilding, steel
Industrial production growth rate-3.1% (2015 est.)
3% (2016 est.)
Agriculture - productsrice, corn, potatoes, wheat, soybeans, pulses, beef, pork, eggs
rice, root crops, barley, vegetables, fruit, cattle, pigs, chickens, milk, eggs, fish
Exports$4.152 billion (2015 est.)
$511.8 billion (2016 est.)
$542.9 billion (2015 est.)
Exports - commoditiesminerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments), textiles, agricultural and fishery products
semiconductors, petrochemicals, automobile/auto parts, ships, wireless communication equipment, flat displays, steel, electronics, plastics, computers
Exports - partnersChina 76.5% (2015)
China 26%, US 13.3%, Hong Kong 5.8%, Vietnam 5.3%, Japan 4.9% (2015)
Imports$4.819 billion (2015 est.)
$391.3 billion (2016 est.)
$420.6 billion (2015 est.)
Imports - commoditiespetroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment, textiles, grain
crude oil/petroleum products, semiconductors, natural gas, coal, steel, computers, wireless communication equipment, automobiles, fine chemicals, textiles
Imports - partnersChina 76.3%, Republic of the Congo 5.5% (2015)
China 20.7%, Japan 10.5%, US 10.1%, Germany 4.8%, Saudi Arabia 4.5% (2015)
Debt - external$5 billion (2013 est.)
$380.9 billion (2016 est.)
$396.1 billion (2015 est.)
Exchange ratesNorth Korean won (KPW) per US dollar (average market rate)
8,200 (2015 est.)
7,900 (2014 est.)
98.5 (2013 est.)
155.5 (2012 est.)
South Korean won (KRW) per US dollar -
1,167.6 (2016 est.)
1,130.95 (2015 est.)
1,130.95 (2014 est.)
1,052.96 (2013 est.)
1,126.47 (2012 est.)
Fiscal yearcalendar year
calendar year
GDP (official exchange rate)$28 billion (2013 est.)
$1.411 trillion (2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues11.4% of GDP
note: excludes earnings from state-operated enterprises (2007 est.)
21.1% of GDP (2016 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)-0.4% of GDP (2007 est.)
0.8% of GDP (2016 est.)
GDP - composition, by end usehousehold consumption: NA%
government consumption: NA%
investment in fixed capital: NA%
investment in inventories: NA%
exports of goods and services: 5.9%
imports of goods and services: -11.1% (2014 est.)
household consumption: 48.8%
government consumption: 15%
investment in fixed capital: 29.3%
investment in inventories: 0.1%
exports of goods and services: 42.2%
imports of goods and services: -35.4% (2016 est.)
Gross national savingNA%
35.6% of GDP (2016 est.)
35.8% of GDP (2015 est.)
35.3% of GDP (2014 est.)


North KoreaSouth Korea
Electricity - production17 billion kWh (2014 est.)
528.1 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption15 billion kWh (2014 est.)
497 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports0 kWh (2014 est.)
0 kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - imports0 kWh (2014 est.)
0 kWh (2016 est.)
Oil - production0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
600,000 bbl/day (1 April 2017 est.)
Oil - imports70,000 bbl/day (2013 est.)
2.811 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - exports0 bbl/day (2014 est.)
0 bbl/day (1 April 2017)
Oil - proved reserves0 bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
NA bbl (1 January 2016 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves0 cu m (1 January 2014 es)
7.079 billion cu m (1 January 2016 es)
Natural gas - production0 cu m (2014 est.)
322 million cu m (2014 est.)
Natural gas - consumption0 cu m (2014 est.)
47.4 billion cu m (2014 est.)
Natural gas - exports0 cu m (2014 est.)
0 cu m (2014 est.)
Natural gas - imports0 cu m (2014 est.)
49.08 billion cu m (2014 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity10 million kW (2014 est.)
97.65 million kW (2015 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels45% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)
64.4% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants55% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)
1.1% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels0% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)
31.2% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources0% of total installed capacity (2014 est.)
3.3% of total installed capacity (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production11,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
3.06 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption17,000 bbl/day (2014 est.)
2.346 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports0 bbl/day (2013 est.)
2.04 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports5,678 bbl/day (2013 est.)
843,500 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy50 million Mt (2013 est.)
599.3 million Mt (2014 est.)
Electricity accesspopulation without electricity: 18,400,000
electrification - total population: 30%
electrification - urban areas: 41%
electrification - rural areas: 13% (2013)
electrification - total population: 100% (2016)


North KoreaSouth Korea
Telephones - main lines in usetotal subscriptions: 1.18 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 5 (July 2015 est.)
total subscriptions: 28,882,783
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 59 (July 2015 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellulartotal: 3.24 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 13 (July 2015 est.)
total: 58.935 million
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 120 (July 2015 est.)
Telephone systemgeneral assessment: adequate system; nationwide fiber-optic network; mobile-cellular service expanded beyond Pyongyang
domestic: fiber-optic links installed down to the county level; telephone directories unavailable; mobile service launched in late 2008 for the Pyongyang area and considerable progress in expanding to other parts of the country since
international: country code - 850; satellite earth stations - 2 (1 Intelsat - Indian Ocean, 1 Russian - Indian Ocean region); other international connections through Moscow and Beijing (2015)
general assessment: excellent domestic and international services featuring rapid incorporation of new technologies
domestic: fixed-line and mobile-cellular services widely available with the latter subscribership up to about 120 per 100 persons; rapid assimilation of a full range of telecommunications technologies leading to a boom in e-commerce
international: country code - 82; numerous submarine cables provide links throughout Asia, Australia, the Middle East, Europe, and US; satellite earth stations - 66 (2015)
Internet country code.kp
Broadcast mediano independent media; radios and TVs are pre-tuned to government stations; 4 government-owned TV stations; the Korean Workers' Party owns and operates the Korean Central Broadcasting Station, and the state-run Voice of Korea operates an external broadcast service; the government prohibits listening to and jams foreign broadcasts (2015)
multiple national TV networks with 2 of the 3 largest networks publicly operated; the largest privately owned network, Seoul Broadcasting Service (SBS), has ties with other commercial TV networks; cable and satellite TV subscription services available; publicly operated radio broadcast networks and many privately owned radio broadcasting networks, each with multiple affiliates, and independent local stations (2017)


North KoreaSouth Korea
Railwaystotal: 7,435 km
standard gauge: 7,435 km 1.435-m gauge (5,400 km electrified)
note: figures are approximate; some narrow-gauge railway also exists (2014)
total: 3,874 km
standard gauge: 3,874 km 1.435-m gauge (2,727 km electrified) (2015)
Roadwaystotal: 25,554 km
paved: 724 km
unpaved: 24,830 km (2006)
total: 99,025 km
paved: 91,195 km (includes 4,193 km of expressways)
unpaved: 7,830 km (2015)
Waterways2,250 km (most navigable only by small craft) (2011)
1,600 km (most navigable only by small craft) (2011)
Pipelinesoil 6 km (2013)
gas 2,216 km; oil 16 km; refined products 889 km (2013)
Ports and terminalsmajor seaport(s): Ch'ongjin, Haeju, Hungnam (Hamhung), Namp'o, Senbong, Songnim, Sonbong (formerly Unggi), Wonsan
major seaport(s): Busan, Incheon, Gunsan, Kwangyang, Mokpo, Pohang, Ulsan, Yeosu
container port(s) (TEUs): Busan (16,163,842), Kwangyang (2,061,958), Incheon (1,924,644)
LNG terminal(s) (import): Incheon, Kwangyang, Pyeongtaek, Samcheok, Tongyeong, Yeosu
Merchant marinetotal: 158
by type: bulk carrier 6, cargo 131, carrier 1, chemical tanker 1, container 4, passenger/cargo 1, petroleum tanker 12, refrigerated cargo 2
foreign-owned: 13 (Belgium 1, China 3, Nigeria 1, Singapore 1, South Korea 1, Syria 4, UAE 2)
registered in other countries: 6 (Mongolia 1, Sierra Leone 2, unknown 3) (2010)
total: 1,116
by type: bulk carrier 260, coal carrier 38, container ship 150, general cargo 178, LPG carrier 65, metal material carrier 10, petroleum goods/chemical goods carrier 253, petroleum tanker 51, refrigerated cargo 22, vehicle carrier 58, other 31 (2016)
foreign-owned: 31 (China 6, France 2, Japan 14, Taiwan 1, US 8) (2010)
registered in other countries: 516 (Hong Kong 3, Marshall Islands 170, North Korea 1, Panama 339, Singapore 2, Isle of Man 7, Cook Islands 1) (2016)
Airports82 (2013)
111 (2013)
Airports - with paved runwaystotal: 39
over 3,047 m: 3
2,438 to 3,047 m: 22
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 4 (2013)
total: 71
over 3,047 m: 4
2,438 to 3,047 m: 19
1,524 to 2,437 m: 12
914 to 1,523 m: 13
under 914 m: 23 (2013)
Airports - with unpaved runwaystotal: 43
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17
914 to 1,523 m: 15
under 914 m: 8 (2013)
total: 40
914 to 1,523 m: 2
under 914 m: 38 (2013)
Heliports23 (2013)
466 (2013)


North KoreaSouth Korea
Military branchesNorth Korean People's Army: Ground Forces, Navy, Air Force; civil security forces (2005)
Republic of Korea Army, Navy (includes Marine Corps), Air Force (2011)
Military service age and obligation17 years of age for compulsory male and female military service; service obligation 10 years for men, to age 23 for women (2017)
20-30 years of age for compulsory military service, with middle school education required; minimum conscript service obligation - 21 months (Army, Marines), 23 months (Navy), 24 months (Air Force); 18-26 years of age for voluntary military service; women, in service since 1950, admitted to 7 service branches, including infantry, but excluded from artillery, armor, anti-air, and chaplaincy corps; HIV-positive individuals are exempt from military service (2012)

Transnational Issues

North KoreaSouth Korea
Disputes - internationalrisking arrest, imprisonment, and deportation, tens of thousands of North Koreans cross into China to escape famine, economic privation, and political oppression; North Korea and China dispute the sovereignty of certain islands in Yalu and Tumen Rivers; Military Demarcation Line within the 4-km-wide Demilitarized Zone has separated North from South Korea since 1953; periodic incidents in the Yellow Sea with South Korea which claims the Northern Limiting Line as a maritime boundary; North Korea supports South Korea in rejecting Japan's claim to Liancourt Rocks (Tok-do/Take-shima)
Military Demarcation Line within the 4-km-wide Demilitarized Zone has separated North from South Korea since 1953; periodic incidents with North Korea in the Yellow Sea over the Northern Limit Line, which South Korea claims as a maritime boundary; South Korea and Japan claim Liancourt Rocks (Tok-do/Take-shima), occupied by South Korea since 1954
Refugees and internally displaced personsIDPs: undetermined (periodic flooding and famine during mid-1990s) (2007)
stateless persons: 197 (2016)

Source: CIA Factbook