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North Korea vs. China

Introduction

North KoreaChina
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. Under KIM Jong Il's rein, the DPRK continued developing nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles. 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 since occupied the regime's highest political and military posts. 

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, 2016, and 2017; and massive conventional armed forces are of major concern to the international community and have limited the DPRK's international engagement, particularly economically. In 2013, the DPRK declared a policy of simultaneous development of its nuclear weapons program and economy. In late 2017, KIM Jong Un declared the North's nuclear weapons development complete. In 2018, KIM announced a pivot towards diplomacy, including a re-prioritization of economic development, a pause in missile testing beginning in late 2017, and a refrain from anti-US rhetoric starting in June 2018. Since 2018, KIM has participated in four meetings with Chinese President XI Jinping, three with ROK President MOON Jae-in, and three with US President TRUMP. Since July 2019, North Korea has restarted its short-range missile tests and issued statements condemning the US.

China's historical civilization dates from at least 1200 B.C.; from the 3rd century B.C. and for the next two millennia, China alternated between periods of unity and disunity under a succession of imperial dynasties. In the 19th and early 20th centuries, the country was beset by civil unrest, major famines, military defeats, and foreign occupation. After World War II, the Chinese Communist Party under MAO Zedong established an autocratic socialist system that, while ensuring China's sovereignty, imposed strict controls over everyday life and cost the lives of tens of millions of people. After 1978, MAO's successor DENG Xiaoping and other leaders focused on market-oriented economic development and by 2000 output had quadrupled. For much of the population, living standards have improved dramatically but political controls remain tight. Since the early 1990s, China has increased its global outreach and participation in international organizations.

Geography

North KoreaChina
Location
Eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea
Eastern Asia, bordering the East China Sea, Korea Bay, Yellow Sea, and South China Sea, between North Korea and Vietnam
Geographic coordinates
40 00 N, 127 00 E
35 00 N, 105 00 E
Map references
Asia
Asia
Area
total: 120,538 sq km
land: 120,408 sq km
water: 130 sq km
total: 9,596,960 sq km
land: 9,326,410 sq km
water: 270,550 sq km
Area - comparative
slightly larger than Virginia; slightly smaller than Mississippi
slightly smaller than the US
Land boundaries
total: 1,607 km
border countries (3): China 1352 km, South Korea 237 km, Russia 18 km
total: 22,457 km
border countries (15): Afghanistan 91 km, Bhutan 477 km, Burma 2129 km, India 2659 km, Kazakhstan 1765 km, North Korea 1352 km, Kyrgyzstan 1063 km, Laos 475 km, Mongolia 4630 km, Nepal 1389 km, Pakistan 438 km, Russia (northeast) 4133 km, Russia (northwest) 46 km, Tajikistan 477 km, Vietnam 1297 km
Coastline
2,495 km
14,500 km
Maritime claims
territorial 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
exclusive economic zone: 200 nm
contiguous zone: 24 nm
continental shelf: 200 nm or to the edge of the continental margin
Climate
temperate, with rainfall concentrated in summer; long, bitter winters
extremely diverse; tropical in south to subarctic in north
Terrain
mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; wide coastal plains in west, discontinuous in east
mostly mountains, high plateaus, deserts in west; plains, deltas, and hills in east
Elevation extremes
mean elevation: 600 m
lowest point: Sea of Japan 0 m
highest point: Paektu-san 2,744 m
mean elevation: 1,840 m
lowest point: Turpan Pendi -154 m
highest point: Mount Everest (highest peak in Asia and highest point on earth above sea level) 8,848 m
Natural resources
coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, precious metals, hydropower
coal, iron ore, helium, petroleum, natural gas, arsenic, bismuth, cobalt, cadmium, ferrosilicon, gallium, germanium, hafnium, indium, lithium, mercury, tantalum, tellurium, tin, titanium, tungsten, antimony, manganese, magnesium, molybdenum, selenium, strontium, vanadium, magnetite, aluminum, lead, zinc, rare earth elements, uranium, hydropower potential (world's largest), arable land
Land use
agricultural land: 21.8% (2011 est.)
arable land: 19.5% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 1.9% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 0.4% (2011 est.)
forest: 46% (2011 est.)
other: 32.2% (2011 est.)
agricultural land: 54.7% (2011 est.)
arable land: 11.3% (2011 est.) / permanent crops: 1.6% (2011 est.) / permanent pasture: 41.8% (2011 est.)
forest: 22.3% (2011 est.)
other: 23% (2011 est.)
Irrigated land
14,600 sq km (2012)
690,070 sq km (2012)
Natural hazards

late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall

volcanism: Changbaishan (2,744 m) (also known as Baitoushan, Baegdu or P'aektu-san), on the Chinese border, is considered historically active

frequent typhoons (about five per year along southern and eastern coasts); damaging floods; tsunamis; earthquakes; droughts; land subsidence

volcanism: China contains some historically active volcanoes including Changbaishan (also known as Baitoushan, Baegdu, or P'aektu-san), Hainan Dao, and Kunlun although most have been relatively inactive in recent centuries

Environment - current issues
water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water; waterborne disease; deforestation; soil erosion and degradation
air pollution (greenhouse gases, sulfur dioxide particulates) from reliance on coal produces acid rain; China is the world's largest single emitter of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels; water shortages, particularly in the north; water pollution from untreated wastes; coastal destruction due to land reclamation, industrial development, and aquaculture; deforestation and habitat destruction; poor land management leads to soil erosion, landslides, floods, droughts, dust storms, and desertification; trade in endangered species
Environment - international agreements
party 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 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 - note
strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated and sparsely populated
note 1: world's fourth largest country (after Russia, Canada, and US) and largest country situated entirely in Asia; Mount Everest on the border with Nepal is the world's tallest peak above sea level

note 2: the largest cave chamber in the world is the Miao Room, in the Gebihe cave system at China's Ziyun Getu He Chuandong National Park, which encloses some 10.78 million cu m (380.7 million cu ft) of volume

note 3: China appears to have been the center of domestication for two of the world's leading cereal crops: millet in the north along the Yellow River and rice in the south along the lower or middle Yangtze River
Population distribution
population 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
overwhelming majority of the population is found in the eastern half of the country; the west, with its vast mountainous and desert areas, remains sparsely populated; though ranked first in the world in total population, overall density is less than that of many other countries in Asia and Europe; high population density is found along the Yangtze and Yellow River valleys, the Xi Jiang River delta, the Sichuan Basin (around Chengdu), in and around Beijing, and the industrial area around Shenyang

Demographics

North KoreaChina
Population
25,643,466 (July 2020 est.)
1,394,015,977 (July 2020 est.)
Age structure
0-14 years: 20.47% (male 2,677,578/female 2,571,118)
15-24 years: 14.68% (male 1,894,091/female 1,869,799)
25-54 years: 44% (male 5,659,446/female 5,624,034)
55-64 years: 11.2% (male 1,369,199/female 1,503,086)
65 years and over: 9.65% (male 859,151/female 1,615,964) (2020 est.)
0-14 years: 17.29% (male 129,296,339/female 111,782,427)
15-24 years: 11.48% (male 86,129,841/female 73,876,148)
25-54 years: 46.81% (male 333,789,731/female 318,711,557)
55-64 years: 12.08% (male 84,827,645/female 83,557,507)
65 years and over: 12.34% (male 81,586,490/female 90,458,292) (2020 est.)
Median age
total: 34.6 years
male: 33.2 years
female: 36.2 years (2020 est.)
total: 38.4 years
male: 37.5 years
female: 39.4 years (2020 est.)
Population growth rate
0.51% (2020 est.)
0.32% (2020 est.)
Birth rate
14.5 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
11.6 births/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Death rate
9.4 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
8.2 deaths/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Net migration rate
0 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
-0.4 migrant(s)/1,000 population (2020 est.)
Sex ratio
at birth: 1.06 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.04 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.01 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 0.91 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.53 male(s)/female
total population: 94.5 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
at birth: 1.11 male(s)/female
0-14 years: 1.16 male(s)/female
15-24 years: 1.17 male(s)/female
25-54 years: 1.05 male(s)/female
55-64 years: 1.02 male(s)/female
65 years and over: 0.9 male(s)/female
total population: 105.5 male(s)/female (2020 est.)
Infant mortality rate
total: 20 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 22.3 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 17.6 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
total: 11.4 deaths/1,000 live births
male: 11.9 deaths/1,000 live births
female: 10.9 deaths/1,000 live births (2020 est.)
Life expectancy at birth
total population: 71.6 years
male: 67.7 years
female: 75.6 years (2020 est.)
total population: 76.1 years
male: 74 years
female: 78.4 years (2020 est.)
Total fertility rate
1.92 children born/woman (2020 est.)
1.6 children born/woman (2020 est.)
HIV/AIDS - adult prevalence rate
NA
NA
Nationality
noun: Korean(s)
adjective: Korean
noun: Chinese (singular and plural)
adjective: Chinese
Ethnic groups
racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese
Han Chinese 91.6%, Zhuang 1.3%, other (includes Hui, Manchu, Uighur, Miao, Yi, Tujia, Tibetan, Mongol, Dong, Buyei, Yao, Bai, Korean, Hani, Li, Kazakh, Dai, and other nationalities) 7.1% (2010 est.)

note: the Chinese Government officially recognizes 56 ethnic groups

HIV/AIDS - people living with HIV/AIDS
NA
NA
Religions
traditionally 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

Buddhist 18.2%, Christian 5.1%, Muslim 1.8%, folk religion 21.9%, Hindu < 0.1%, Jewish < 0.1%, other 0.7% (includes Daoist (Taoist)), unaffiliated 52.2% (2010 est.)

note: officially atheist

HIV/AIDS - deaths
NA
NA
Languages
Korean
Standard Chinese or Mandarin (official; Putonghua, based on the Beijing dialect), Yue (Cantonese), Wu (Shanghainese), Minbei (Fuzhou), Minnan (Hokkien-Taiwanese), Xiang, Gan, Hakka dialects, minority languages (see Ethnic groups entry)

note: Zhuang is official in Guangxi Zhuang, Yue is official in Guangdong, Mongolian is official in Nei Mongol, Uighur is official in Xinjiang Uygur, Kyrgyz is official in Xinjiang Uygur, and Tibetan is official in Xizang (Tibet)

Literacy
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 100%
male: 100%
female: 100% (2015)
definition: age 15 and over can read and write
total population: 96.8%
male: 98.5%
female: 95.2% (2018)
School life expectancy (primary to tertiary education)
total: 11 years
male: 11 years
female: 11 years (2015)
total: 14 years
male: 14 years
female: 14 years (2015)
Education expenditures
NA
NA
Urbanization
urban population: 62.4% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 0.82% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)
urban population: 61.4% of total population (2020)
rate of urbanization: 2.42% annual rate of change (2015-20 est.)

note: data do not include Hong Kong and Macau

Drinking water source
improved: urban: 97.2% of population
rural: 90.2% of population
total: 94.5% of population
unimproved: urban: 2.8% of population
rural: 9.8% of population
total: 5.5% of population (2017 est.)
improved: urban: 97.7% of population
rural: 87.8% of population
total: 92.8% of population
unimproved: urban: 2.3% of population
rural: 12.2% of population
total: 7.2% of population (2017 est.)
Sanitation facility access
improved: urban: 91.9% of population
rural: 72.3% of population
total: 84.5% of population
unimproved: urban: 8.1% of population
rural: 27.7% of population
total: 15.5% of population (2017 est.)
improved: urban: 97.1% of population
rural: 82% of population
total: 90.7% of population
unimproved: urban: 2.4% of population
rural: 18% of population
total: 9.3% of population (2017 est.)
Major cities - population
3.084 million PYONGYANG (capital) (2020)
27.058 million Shanghai, 20.463 million BEIJING (capital), 15.872 million Chongqing, 13.589 million Tianjin, 13.302 million Guangzhou, 12.357 million Shenzhen (2020)
Maternal mortality rate
89 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
29 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)
Children under the age of 5 years underweight
9.3% (2017)
2.4% (2013)
Physicians density
3.68 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
1.98 physicians/1,000 population (2017)
Hospital bed density
13.2 beds/1,000 population (2012)
4.3 beds/1,000 population (2017)
Obesity - adult prevalence rate
6.8% (2016)
6.2% (2016)
Contraceptive prevalence rate
70.2% (2017)
84.5% (2017)
Dependency ratios
total dependency ratio: 41.2
youth dependency ratio: 28
elderly dependency ratio: 13.2
potential support ratio: 7.6 (2020 est.)
total dependency ratio: 42.2
youth dependency ratio: 25.2
elderly dependency ratio: 17
potential support ratio: 5.9 (2020 est.)
data do not include Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan

Government

North KoreaChina
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: People's Republic of China
conventional short form: China
local long form: Zhonghua Renmin Gongheguo
local short form: Zhongguo
abbreviation: PRC
etymology: English name derives from the Qin (Chin) rulers of the 3rd century B.C., who comprised the first imperial dynasty of ancient China; the Chinese name Zhongguo translates as "Central Nation" or "Middle Kingdom"
Government type
dictatorship, single-party state; official state ideology of "Juche" or "national self-reliance"
communist party-led state
Capital
name: Pyongyang
geographic coordinates: 39 01 N, 125 45 E
time difference: UTC+9 (14 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

note: on 5 May 2018, North Korea reverted to UTC+9, the same time zone as South Korea

etymology: the name translates as "flat land" in Korean

name: Beijing
geographic coordinates: 39 55 N, 116 23 E
time difference: UTC+8 (13 hours ahead of Washington, DC, during Standard Time)

note: China is the largest country (in terms of area) with just one time zone; before 1949 it was divided into five

etymology: the Chinese meaning is "Northern Capital"

Administrative divisions

9 provinces (do, singular and plural) and 3 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), Ryanggang

major cities: Nampo, P'yongyang, Rason

note: Nampo is sometimes designated as a metropolitan city, P'yongyang as a directly controlled city, and Rason as a city

23 provinces (sheng, singular and plural), 5 autonomous regions (zizhiqu, singular and plural), and 4 municipalities (shi, singular and plural)

provinces: Anhui, Fujian, Gansu, Guangdong, Guizhou, Hainan, Hebei, Heilongjiang, Henan, Hubei, Hunan, Jiangsu, Jiangxi, Jilin, Liaoning, Qinghai, Shaanxi, Shandong, Shanxi, Sichuan, Yunnan, Zhejiang; (see note on Taiwan)

autonomous regions: Guangxi, Nei Mongol (Inner Mongolia), Ningxia, Xinjiang Uyghur, Xizang (Tibet)

municipalities: Beijing, Chongqing, Shanghai, Tianjin

note: China considers Taiwan its 23rd province; see separate entries for the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macau

Independence
15 August 1945 (from Japan)
1 October 1949 (People's Republic of China established); notable earlier dates: 221 B.C. (unification under the Qin Dynasty); 1 January 1912 (Qing Dynasty replaced by the Republic of China)
National holiday
Founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), 9 September (1948)
National Day (anniversary of the founding of the People's Republic of China), 1 October (1949)
Constitution
history: previous 1948, 1972; latest adopted 1998 (during KIM Jong Il era)
amendments: proposed by the Supreme People’s Assembly (SPA); passage requires more than two-thirds majority vote of the total SPA membership; revised 2009, 2012, 2013, 2016, 2019
history: several previous; latest promulgated 4 December 1982
amendments: proposed by the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress or supported by more than one fifth of the National People’s Congress membership; passage requires more than two-thirds majority vote of the Congress membership; amended several times, last in 2018
Legal system
Suffrage
17 years of age; universal and compulsory
18 years of age; universal
Executive branch
chief of state: Supreme People's Assembly President CHOE Ryong Hae (since 11 April 2019); note - functions as the technical head of state and performs related duties, such as receiving ambassadors' credentials
head of government: State Affairs Commission Chairman KIM Jong Un (since 17 December 2011); note - functions as the commander-in-chief and chief executive
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 10 March 2019 (next election March 2024)
election results: KIM Jong In reelected 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 XI Jinping (since 14 March 2013); Vice President WANG Qishan (since 17 March 2018)
head of government: Premier LI Keqiang (since 16 March 2013); Executive Vice Premiers HAN Zheng (since 19 March 2018), SUN Chunlan (since 19 March 2018), LIU He (since 19 March 2018), HU Chunhua (since 19 March 2018)
cabinet: State Council appointed by National People's Congress
elections/appointments: president and vice president indirectly elected by National People's Congress for a 5-year term (unlimited terms); election last held on 17 March 2018 (next to be held in March 2023); premier nominated by president, confirmed by National People's Congress
election results: XI Jinping reelected president; National People's Congress vote - 2,970 (unanimously); WANG Qishan elected vice president with 2,969 votes
Legislative branch
description: unicameral Supreme People's Assembly or Ch'oego Inmin Hoeui (687 seats; members directly elected by majority vote in 2 rounds if needed to serve 5-year terms); note - the Korean Workers' Party selects all candidates
elections: last held on 10 March 2019 (next to be held March 2024)
election results: percent of vote by party - NA; seats by party - KWP 607, KSDP 50, Chondoist Chongu Party 22, General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon) 5, religious associations 3; ruling party approves a list of candidates who are elected without opposition; composition - men 575, women 112, percent of women 16.3%

note: KWP, KSDP, Chondoist Chongu Party, and Chongryon are under the KWP's control; a token number of seats reserved for minor parties
description: unicameral National People's Congress or Quanguo Renmin Daibiao Dahui (maximum of 3,000 seats; members indirectly elected by municipal, regional, and provincial people's congresses, and the People's Liberation Army; members serve 5-year terms); note - in practice, only members of the Chinese Communist Party (CCP), its 8 allied independent parties, and CCP-approved independent candidates are elected
elections: last held in December 2017-February 2018 (next to be held in late 2022 to early 2023)
election results: percent of vote - NA; seats by party - NA; composition - men 2,238, women 742, percent of women 24.9%
Judicial branch
highest courts: Supreme Court or Central Court (consists of one judge and 2 "People's Assessors" or, 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: lower provincial courts as determined by the Supreme People's Assembly
highest courts: Supreme People's Court (consists of over 340 judges, including the chief justice and 13 grand justices organized into a civil committee and tribunals for civil, economic, administrative, complaint and appeal, and communication and transportation cases)
judge selection and term of office: chief justice appointed by the People's National Congress (NPC); limited to 2 consecutive 5-year-terms; other justices and judges nominated by the chief justice and appointed by the Standing Committee of the NPC; term of other justices and judges determined by the NPC
subordinate courts: Higher People's Courts; Intermediate People's Courts; District and County People's Courts; Autonomous Region People's Courts; International Commercial Courts; Special People's Courts for military, maritime, transportation, and forestry issues
note: in late 2014, China unveiled a multi-year judicial reform program; progress continued in 2018
Political parties and leaders
major parties:
Korean Workers' Party or KWP [KIM Jong Un]
General Association of Korean Residents in Japan (Chongryon)
minor parties:
Chondoist Chongu Party (under KWP control)
Social Democratic Party or KSDP [KIM Yong Dae] (under KWP control)
Chinese Communist Party or CCP [XI Jinping]

note: China has 8 nominally independent small parties controlled by the CCP

International organization participation
ARF, FAO, G-77, ICAO, ICRM, IFAD, IFRCS, IHO, IMO, IMSO, IOC, IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, NAM, UN, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNIDO, UNWTO, UPU, WFTU (NGOs), WHO, WIPO, WMO
ADB, AfDB (nonregional member), APEC, Arctic Council (observer), ARF, ASEAN (dialogue partner), BIS, BRICS, CDB, CICA, EAS, FAO, FATF, G-20, G-24 (observer), G-5, G-77, IADB, IAEA, IBRD, ICAO, ICC (national committees), ICRM, IDA, IFAD, IFC, IFRCS, IHO, ILO, IMF, IMO, IMSO, Interpol, IOC, IOM (observer), IPU, ISO, ITSO, ITU, LAIA (observer), MIGA, MINURSO, MINUSMA, MONUSCO, NAM (observer), NSG, OAS (observer), OPCW, Pacific Alliance (observer), PCA, PIF (partner), SAARC (observer), SCO, SICA (observer), UN, UNAMID, UNCTAD, UNESCO, UNFICYP, UNHCR, UNIDO, UNIFIL, UNMIL, UNMISS, UNOCI, UN Security Council (permanent), UNTSO, UNWTO, UPU, WCO, WHO, WIPO, WMO, WTO, ZC
Diplomatic representation in the US
none; North Korea has a Permanent Mission to the UN in New York
Ambassador CUI Tiankai (since 3 April 2013)
chancery: 3505 International Place NW, Washington, DC 20008
telephone: [1] (202) 495-2266
FAX: [1] (202) 495-2138
consulate(s) general: Chicago, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco; note - the US ordered closure of the Houston consulate in late July 2020
Diplomatic representation from the US
embassy: none; the Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang represents the US as consular protecting power
chief of mission: Ambassador Terry BRANSTAD (since 12 July 2017)
telephone: [86] (10) 8531-3000
embassy: 55 An Jia Lou Lu, 100600 Beijing
mailing address: PO AP 96521
FAX: [86] (10) 8531-3300
consulate(s) general: Guangzhou, Shanghai, Shenyang, Wuhan; note - the Chinese Government ordered closure of the US consulate in Chengdu in late July 2020
Flag description
three horizontal bands of blue (top), red (triple width), and blue; the red band is edged in white; on the hoist side of the red band is a white disk with a red five-pointed star; 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
red with a large yellow five-pointed star and four smaller yellow five-pointed stars (arranged in a vertical arc toward the middle of the flag) in the upper hoist-side corner; the color red represents revolution, while the stars symbolize the four social classes - the working class, the peasantry, the urban petty bourgeoisie, and the national bourgeoisie (capitalists) - united under the Communist Party of China
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: "Yiyongjun Jinxingqu" (The March of the Volunteers)
lyrics/music: TIAN Han/NIE Er

note: adopted 1949; the anthem, though banned during the Cultural Revolution, is more commonly known as "Zhongguo Guoge" (Chinese National Song); it was originally the theme song to the 1935 Chinese movie, "Sons and Daughters in a Time of Storm"

International law organization participation
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICC
has not submitted an ICJ jurisdiction declaration; non-party state to the ICCt
National symbol(s)
red star, chollima (winged horse); national colors: red, white, blue
dragon, giant panda; national colors: red, yellow
Citizenship
citizenship 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: least one parent must be a citizen of China
dual citizenship recognized: no
residency requirement for naturalization: while naturalization is theoretically possible, in practical terms it is extremely difficult; residency is required but not specified

Economy

North KoreaChina
Economy - overview

North 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 programs 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 through mid-2000s 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 improved, 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. Throughout 2017, North Korea’s continued nuclear and missile tests led to a tightening of UN sanctions, resulting in full sectoral bans on DPRK exports and drastically limited key imports. 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.

Since the late 1970s, China has moved from a closed, centrally planned system to a more market-oriented one that plays a major global role. China has implemented reforms in a gradualist fashion, resulting in efficiency gains that have contributed to a more than tenfold increase in GDP since 1978. Reforms began with the phaseout of collectivized agriculture, and expanded to include the gradual liberalization of prices, fiscal decentralization, increased autonomy for state enterprises, growth of the private sector, development of stock markets and a modern banking system, and opening to foreign trade and investment. China continues to pursue an industrial policy, state support of key sectors, and a restrictive investment regime. From 2013 to 2017, China had one of the fastest growing economies in the world, averaging slightly more than 7% real growth per year. Measured on a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis that adjusts for price differences, China in 2017 stood as the largest economy in the world, surpassing the US in 2014 for the first time in modern history. China became the world's largest exporter in 2010, and the largest trading nation in 2013. Still, China's per capita income is below the world average.

In July 2005 moved to an exchange rate system that references a basket of currencies. From mid-2005 to late 2008, the renminbi (RMB) appreciated more than 20% against the US dollar, but the exchange rate remained virtually pegged to the dollar from the onset of the global financial crisis until June 2010, when Beijing announced it would resume a gradual appreciation. From 2013 until early 2015, the renminbi held steady against the dollar, but it depreciated 13% from mid-2015 until end-2016 amid strong capital outflows; in 2017 the RMB resumed appreciating against the dollar – roughly 7% from end-of-2016 to end-of-2017. In 2015, the People’s Bank of China announced it would continue to carefully push for full convertibility of the renminbi, after the currency was accepted as part of the IMF’s special drawing rights basket. However, since late 2015 the Chinese Government has strengthened capital controls and oversight of overseas investments to better manage the exchange rate and maintain financial stability.

The Chinese Government faces numerous economic challenges including: (a) reducing its high domestic savings rate and correspondingly low domestic household consumption; (b) managing its high corporate debt burden to maintain financial stability; (c) controlling off-balance sheet local government debt used to finance infrastructure stimulus; (d) facilitating higher-wage job opportunities for the aspiring middle class, including rural migrants and college graduates, while maintaining competitiveness; (e) dampening speculative investment in the real estate sector without sharply slowing the economy; (f) reducing industrial overcapacity; and (g) raising productivity growth rates through the more efficient allocation of capital and state-support for innovation. Economic development has progressed further in coastal provinces than in the interior, and by 2016 more than 169.3 million migrant workers and their dependents had relocated to urban areas to find work. One consequence of China’s population control policy known as the "one-child policy" - which was relaxed in 2016 to permit all families to have two children - is that China is now one of the most rapidly aging countries in the world. Deterioration in the environment - notably air pollution, soil erosion, and the steady fall of the water table, especially in the North - is another long-term problem. China continues to lose arable land because of erosion and urbanization. The Chinese Government is seeking to add energy production capacity from sources other than coal and oil, focusing on natural gas, nuclear, and clean energy development. In 2016, China ratified the Paris Agreement, a multilateral agreement to combat climate change, and committed to peak its carbon dioxide emissions between 2025 and 2030.

The government's 13th Five-Year Plan, unveiled in March 2016, emphasizes the need to increase innovation and boost domestic consumption to make the economy less dependent on government investment, exports, and heavy industry. However, China has made more progress on subsidizing innovation than rebalancing the economy. Beijing has committed to giving the market a more decisive role in allocating resources, but the Chinese Government’s policies continue to favor state-owned enterprises and emphasize stability. Chinese leaders in 2010 pledged to double China’s GDP by 2020, and the 13th Five Year Plan includes annual economic growth targets of at least 6.5% through 2020 to achieve that goal. In recent years, China has renewed its support for state-owned enterprises in sectors considered important to "economic security," explicitly looking to foster globally competitive industries. Chinese leaders also have undermined some market-oriented reforms by reaffirming the "dominant" role of the state in the economy, a stance that threatens to discourage private initiative and make the economy less efficient over time. The slight acceleration in economic growth in 2017—the first such uptick since 2010—gives Beijing more latitude to pursue its economic reforms, focusing on financial sector deleveraging and its Supply-Side Structural Reform agenda, first announced in late 2015.

GDP (purchasing power parity)
$40 billion (2015 est.)
$40 billion (2014 est.)
$40 billion (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars
North Korea does not publish reliable National Income Accounts data; the data shown are derived from purchasing power parity (PPP) GDP estimates that were made by Angus MADDISON in a study conducted for the OECD; his figure for 1999 was extrapolated to 2015 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.

$25.36 trillion (2018)
$23.21 trillion (2017 est.)
$21.72 trillion (2016 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - real growth rate
-1.1% (2015 est.)
1% (2014 est.)
1.1% (2013 est.)
6.14% (2019 est.)
6.75% (2018 est.)
6.92% (2017 est.)
GDP - per capita (PPP)
$1,700 (2015 est.)
$1,800 (2014 est.)
$1,800 (2013 est.)

note: data are in 2015 US dollars

$18,200 (2018)
$16,700 (2017 est.)
$15,700 (2016 est.)

note: data are in 2017 dollars

GDP - composition by sector
agriculture: 22.5% (2017 est.)
industry: 47.6% (2017 est.)
services: 29.9% (2017 est.)
agriculture: 7.9% (2017 est.)
industry: 40.5% (2017 est.)
services: 51.6% (2017 est.)
Population below poverty line
NA
3.3% (2016 est.)

note: in 2011, China set a new poverty line at RMB 2300 (approximately US $400)

Household income or consumption by percentage share
lowest 10%: NA
highest 10%: NA
lowest 10%: 2.1%
highest 10%: 31.4% (2012)

note: data are for urban households only

Inflation rate (consumer prices)

NA

1.6% (2017 est.)
2% (2016 est.)
Labor force
14 million (2014 est.)

note: estimates vary widely

774.71 million (2019 est.)

note: by the end of 2012, China's working age population (15-64 years) was 1.004 billion

Labor force - by occupation
agriculture: 37%
industry: 63% (2008 est.)
agriculture: 27.7%
industry: 28.8%
services: 43.5% (2016 est.)
Unemployment rate
25.6% (2013 est.)
25.5% (2012 est.)
3.64% (2019 est.)
3.84% (2018 est.)

note: data are for registered urban unemployment, which excludes private enterprises and migrants

Budget
revenues: 3.2 billion (2007 est.)
expenditures: 3.3 billion (2007 est.)
revenues: 2.553 trillion (2017 est.)
expenditures: 3.008 trillion (2017 est.)
Industries
military products; machine building, electric power, chemicals; mining (coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals), metallurgy; textiles, food processing; tourism
world leader in gross value of industrial output; mining and ore processing, iron, steel, aluminum, and other metals, coal; machine building; armaments; textiles and apparel; petroleum; cement; chemicals; fertilizer; consumer products (including footwear, toys, and electronics); food processing; transportation equipment, including automobiles, railcars and locomotives, ships, aircraft; telecommunications equipment, commercial space launch vehicles, satellites
Industrial production growth rate
1% (2017 est.)
6.1% (2017 est.)
Agriculture - products
rice, corn, potatoes, wheat, soybeans, pulses, beef, pork, eggs, fruit, nuts
world leader in gross value of agricultural output; rice, wheat, potatoes, corn, tobacco, peanuts, tea, apples, cotton, pork, mutton, eggs; fish, shrimp
Exports
$222 million (2018)
$4.582 billion (2017 est.)
$2.908 billion (2015 est.)
$2.49 trillion (2018)
$2.216 trillion (2017 est.)
$1.99 trillion (2016 est.)
Exports - commodities
minerals, metallurgical products, manufactures (including armaments), textiles, agricultural and fishery products
electrical and other machinery, including computers and telecommunications equipment, apparel, furniture, textiles
Exports - partners
China 86.3% (2017)
US 19.2%, Hong Kong 12.2%, Japan 5.9%, South Korea 4.4% (2018)
Imports
$2.32 billion (2018 est.)
$3.86 billion (2016 est.)
$2.14 trillion (2018)
$1.74 trillion (2017 est.)
$1.501 trillion (2016 est.)
Imports - commodities
petroleum, coking coal, machinery and equipment, textiles, grain
electrical and other machinery, including integrated circuits and other computer components, oil and mineral fuels; optical and medical equipment, metal ores, motor vehicles; soybeans
Imports - partners
China 91.9% (2017)
South Korea 9.7%, Japan 8.6%, US 7.3%, Germany 5%, Australia 4.9% (2018)
Debt - external
$5 billion (2013 est.)
$1.598 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.429 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
Exchange rates
North Korean won (KPW) per US dollar (average market rate)
135 (2017 est.)
130 (2016 est.)
130 (2015 est.)
98.5 (2013 est.)
155.5 (2012 est.)
Renminbi yuan (RMB) per US dollar -
7.76 (2017 est.)
6.6446 (2016 est.)
6.2275 (2015 est.)
6.1434 (2014 est.)
6.1958 (2013 est.)
Fiscal year
calendar year
calendar year
GDP (official exchange rate)
$28 billion (2013 est.)
$12.01 trillion (2017 est.)

note: because China's exchange rate is determined by fiat rather than by market forces, the official exchange rate measure of GDP is not an accurate measure of China's output; GDP at the official exchange rate substantially understates the actual level of China's output vis-a-vis the rest of the world; in China's situation, GDP at purchasing power parity provides the best measure for comparing output across countries

Stock of direct foreign investment - at home
$1.878 billion (31 December 2015 est.)
$1.9 billion (31 December 2013 est.)
$1.523 trillion (31 December 2017 est.)
$1.391 trillion (31 December 2016 est.)
Taxes and other revenues
11.4% (of GDP) (2007 est.)

note: excludes earnings from state-operated enterprises

21.3% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
Budget surplus (+) or deficit (-)
-0.4% (of GDP) (2007 est.)
-3.8% (of GDP) (2017 est.)
GDP - composition, by end use
household consumption: NA (2014 est.)
government consumption: NA (2014 est.)
investment in fixed capital: NA (2014 est.)
investment in inventories: NA (2014 est.)
exports of goods and services: 5.9% (2016 est.)
imports of goods and services: -11.1% (2016 est.)
household consumption: 39.1% (2017 est.)
government consumption: 14.5% (2017 est.)
investment in fixed capital: 42.7% (2017 est.)
investment in inventories: 1.7% (2017 est.)
exports of goods and services: 20.4% (2017 est.)
imports of goods and services: -18.4% (2017 est.)
Gross national saving

NA

45.8% of GDP (2017 est.)
45.9% of GDP (2016 est.)
47.5% of GDP (2015 est.)

Energy

North KoreaChina
Electricity - production
16.57 billion kWh (2016 est.)
5.883 trillion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - consumption
13.89 billion kWh (2016 est.)
5.564 trillion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - exports
0 kWh (2016 est.)
18.91 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Electricity - imports
0 kWh (2016 est.)
6.185 billion kWh (2016 est.)
Oil - production
0 bbl/day (2018 est.)
3.773 million bbl/day (2018 est.)
Oil - imports
10,640 bbl/day (2015 est.)
6.71 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - exports
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
57,310 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Oil - proved reserves
0 bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
25.63 billion bbl (1 January 2018 est.)
Natural gas - proved reserves
0 cu m (1 January 2014 est.)
5.44 trillion cu m (1 January 2018 est.)
Natural gas - production
0 cu m (2017 est.)
145.9 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - consumption
0 cu m (2017 est.)
238.6 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - exports
0 cu m (2017 est.)
3.37 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Natural gas - imports
0 cu m (2017 est.)
97.63 billion cu m (2017 est.)
Electricity - installed generating capacity
10.01 million kW (2016 est.)
1.653 billion kW (2016 est.)
Electricity - from fossil fuels
45% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
62% of total installed capacity (2016 est.)
Electricity - from hydroelectric plants
55% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
18% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from nuclear fuels
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
2% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Electricity - from other renewable sources
0% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
18% of total installed capacity (2017 est.)
Refined petroleum products - production
11,270 bbl/day (2015 est.)
11.51 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - consumption
18,000 bbl/day (2016 est.)
12.47 million bbl/day (2016 est.)
Refined petroleum products - exports
0 bbl/day (2015 est.)
848,400 bbl/day (2015 est.)
Refined petroleum products - imports
8,260 bbl/day (2015 est.)
1.16 million bbl/day (2015 est.)
Carbon dioxide emissions from consumption of energy
27.83 million Mt (2017 est.)
11.67 billion Mt (2017 est.)
Electricity access
population without electricity: 19 million (2019)
electrification - total population: 26% (2019)
electrification - urban areas: 36% (2019)
electrification - rural areas: 11% (2019)
electrification - total population: 100% (2020)

Telecommunications

North KoreaChina
Telephones - main lines in use
total subscriptions: 1,183,806
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 4.64 (2019 est.)
total subscriptions: 185,097,221
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 13.32 (2019 est.)
Telephones - mobile cellular
total subscriptions: 3,821,857
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 14.98 (2019 est.)
total subscriptions: 1,672,545,161
subscriptions per 100 inhabitants: 120.36 (2019 est.)
Internet country code
.kp
.cn
Telecommunication systems
general assessment: nationwide fiber-optic network; mobile-cellular service expanded beyond Pyongyang; infrastructure underdeveloped yet growing mobile penetration by means of foreign investment; Chinese services being increasingly favored and FaceBook and Instagram actions dropped and now absent; low broadband penetration; mobile penetration in North Korea believed to stay well below other Asian nations due to government restrictions; 3G network deployed among universal population (2020)
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; fixed-lines are 5 per 100 and mobile-cellular 15 per 100 persons (2019)
international: country code - 850; satellite earth stations - 2 (1 Intelsat - Indian Ocean, 1 Russian - Indian Ocean region); other international connections through Moscow and Beijing
note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
general assessment: the largest Internet market in the world, with the majority, 98.6% of users accessing the Internet through mobile devices; moderate growth is predicted over the next five years in the fixed broadband segment; one of the biggest drivers of commercial growth is its increasing urbanization rate as rural residents move to cities; China will be the world's largest 5G market; the Chinese mobile market to reach penetration of 134% by 2024; maintains the largest M2M market in the world (2020)
domestic: 13 per 100 fixed line and 120 per 100 mobile-cellular; a domestic satellite system with several earth stations has been in place since 2018 (2019)
international: country code - 86; landing points for the RJCN, EAC-C2C, TPE, APCN-2, APG, NCP, TEA, SeaMeWe-3, SJC2, Taiwan Strait Express-1, AAE-1, APCN-2, AAG, FEA, FLAG and TSE submarine cables providing connectivity to Asia, the Middle East, Europe, and the US; satellite earth stations - 7 (5 Intelsat - 4 Pacific Ocean and 1 Indian Ocean; 1 Intersputnik - Indian Ocean region; and 1 Inmarsat - Pacific and Indian Ocean regions) (2019)
note: the COVID-19 outbreak is negatively impacting telecommunications production and supply chains globally; consumer spending on telecom devices and services has also slowed due to the pandemic's effect on economies worldwide; overall progress towards improvements in all facets of the telecom industry - mobile, fixed-line, broadband, submarine cable and satellite - has moderated
Broadcast media
no 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 (2019)
all broadcast media are owned by, or affiliated with, the Communist Party of China or a government agency; no privately owned TV or radio stations; state-run Chinese Central TV, provincial, and municipal stations offer more than 2,000 channels; the Central Propaganda Department sends directives to all domestic media outlets to guide its reporting with the government maintaining authority to approve all programming; foreign-made TV programs must be approved prior to broadcast; increasingly, Chinese turn to online and satellite television to access Chinese and international films and television shows (2019)

Transportation

North KoreaChina
Railways
total: 7,435 km (2014)
standard gauge: 7,435 km 1.435-m gauge (5,400 km electrified) (2014)

note: figures are approximate; some narrow-gauge railway also exists

total: 131,000 km 1.435-m gauge (80,000 km electrified); 102,000 traditional, 29,000 high-speed (2018)
Roadways
total: 25,554 km (2006)
paved: 724 km (2006)
unpaved: 24,830 km (2006)
total: 4,960,600 km (2017)
paved: 4,338,600 km (includes 136,500 km of expressways) (2017)
unpaved: 622,000 km (2017)
Waterways
2,250 km (most navigable only by small craft) (2011)
110,000 km (navigable waterways) (2011)
Pipelines
6 km oil (2013)
76000 km gas, 30400 km crude oil, 27700 km refined petroleum products, 797000 km water (2018)
Ports and terminals
major seaport(s): Ch'ongjin, Haeju, Hungnam, Namp'o, Songnim, Sonbong (formerly Unggi), Wonsan
major seaport(s): Dalian, Ningbo, Qingdao, Qinhuangdao, Shanghai, Shenzhen, Tianjin
container port(s) (TEUs): Dalian (9,707,000), Guangzhou (18,858,000), Ningbo (24,607,000), Qingdao (18,262,000), Shanghai (40,233,000), Shenzhen (25,208,000), Tianjin (15,040,000) (2017)
LNG terminal(s) (import): Fujian, Guangdong, Jiangsu, Shandong, Shanghai, Tangshan, Zhejiang
river port(s): Guangzhou (Pearl)
Merchant marine
total: 264
by type: bulk carrier 9, container ship 5, general cargo 188, oil tanker 33, other 29 (2019)
total: 5,594
by type: bulk carrier 1,231, container ship 262, general cargo 846, oil tanker 777, other 2,478 (2019)
Airports
total: 82 (2013)
total: 507 (2013)
Airports - with paved runways
total: 39 (2017)
over 3,047 m: 3 (2017)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 22 (2017)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 8 (2017)
914 to 1,523 m: 2 (2017)
under 914 m: 4 (2017)
total: 510 (2019)
over 3,047 m: 87
2,438 to 3,047 m: 187
1,524 to 2,437 m: 109
914 to 1,523 m: 43
under 914 m: 84
Airports - with unpaved runways
total: 43 (2013)
2,438 to 3,047 m: 3 (2013)
1,524 to 2,437 m: 17 (2013)
914 to 1,523 m: 15 (2013)
under 914 m: 8 (2013)
total: 23 (2019)
over 3,047 m: 2
2,438 to 3,047 m: 0
1,524 to 2,437 m: 1
914 to 1,523 m: 7
under 914 m: 13
Heliports
23 (2013)
39 (2019)
National air transport system
number of registered air carriers: 1 (2020)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 4
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 103,560 (2018)
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 250,000 mt-km (2018)
number of registered air carriers: 56 (2020)
inventory of registered aircraft operated by air carriers: 2,890
annual passenger traffic on registered air carriers: 436,183,969 (2018)
annual freight traffic on registered air carriers: 611,439,830 mt-km (2018)
Civil aircraft registration country code prefix
P (2016)
B (2016)

Military

North KoreaChina
Military branches
Korean People's Army (KPA): KPA Ground Forces, KPA Navy, KPA Air Force (includes air defense), KPA Strategic Force (missile forces); Guard Command (protects the Kim family, other senior North Korean leadership figures, and government facilities in Pyongyang); Ministry of Public Security: Border Guards, civil security forces (2019)
People's Liberation Army (PLA): Ground Forces, Navy (PLAN, includes marines and naval aviation), Air Force (PLAAF, includes airborne forces), Rocket Force (strategic missile force), and Strategic Support Force (information warfare, cyber, space forces); People's Armed Police (PAP, includes Coast Guard, Border Defense Force, Internal Security Forces); PLA Reserve Force (2020)
Military service age and obligation
17 years of age for compulsory male and female military service; service obligation 10 years for men, to age 23 for women (2015)
18-22 years of age for selective compulsory military service, with a 2-year service obligation; no minimum age for voluntary service (all officers are volunteers); 18-19 years of age for women high school graduates who meet requirements for specific military jobs (2018)

Transnational Issues

North KoreaChina
Disputes - international

risking 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)

China and India continue their security and foreign policy dialogue started in 2005 related to a number of boundary disputes across the 2,000 mile shared border; India does not recognize Pakistan's 1964 ceding to China of the Aksai Chin, a territory designated as part of the princely state of Kashmir by the British Survey of India in 1865; China claims most of the Indian state Arunachal Pradesh to the base of the Himalayas, but the US recognizes the state of Arunachal Pradesh as Indian territory; Bhutan and China continue negotiations to establish a common boundary alignment to resolve territorial disputes arising from substantial cartographic discrepancies, the most contentious of which lie in Bhutan's west along China's Chumbi salient; Chinese maps show an international boundary symbol (the so-called “nine-dash line”) off the coasts of the littoral states of the South China Sea, where China has interrupted Vietnamese hydrocarbon exploration; China asserts sovereignty over Scarborough Reef along with the Philippines and Taiwan, and over the Spratly Islands together with Malaysia, the Philippines, Taiwan, Vietnam, and Brunei; the 2002 Declaration on the Conduct of Parties in the South China Sea eased tensions in the Spratlys, and in 2017 China and ASEAN began confidential negotiations for an updated Code of Conduct for the South China Sea designed not to settle territorial disputes but establish rules and norms in the region; this still is not the legally binding code of conduct sought by some parties; Vietnam and China continue to expand construction of facilities in the Spratlys and in early 2018 China began deploying advanced military systems to disputed Spratly outposts; China occupies some of the Paracel Islands also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan; the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands are also claimed by China and Taiwan; certain islands in the Yalu and Tumen Rivers are in dispute with North Korea; North Korea and China seek to stem illegal migration to China by North Koreans, fleeing privation and oppression; China and Russia have demarcated the once disputed islands at the Amur and Ussuri confluence and in the Argun River in accordance with their 2004 Agreement; China and Tajikistan have begun demarcating the revised boundary agreed to in the delimitation of 2002; the decade-long demarcation of the China-Vietnam land boundary was completed in 2009; citing environmental, cultural, and social concerns, China has reconsidered construction of 13 dams on the Salween River, but energy-starved Burma, with backing from Thailand, continues to consider building five hydro-electric dams downstream despite regional and international protests

Illicit drugs
at present there is insufficient information to determine the current level of involvement of government officials in the production or trafficking of illicit drugs, but for years, from the 1970s into the 2000s, citizens of the Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea (DPRK), many of them diplomatic employees of the government, were apprehended abroad while trafficking in narcotics; police investigations in Taiwan and Japan in recent years have linked North Korea to large illicit shipments of heroin and methamphetamine
major transshipment point for heroin produced in the Golden Triangle region of Southeast Asia; growing domestic consumption of synthetic drugs, and heroin from Southeast and Southwest Asia; source country for methamphetamine and heroin chemical precursors, despite new regulations on its large chemical industry; more people believed to be convicted and executed for drug offences than anywhere else in the world, according to NGOs
Refugees and internally displaced persons
IDPs: undetermined (periodic flooding and famine during mid-1990s) (2019)
refugees (country of origin): 303,095 (Vietnam), undetermined (North Korea) (2019)
IDPs: undetermined (2014)
Trafficking in persons
current situation: North Korea is a source country for men, women, and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking; many North Korean workers recruited to work abroad under bilateral contracts with foreign governments, most often Russia and China, are subjected to forced labor and do not have a choice in the work the government assigns them, are not free to change jobs, and face government reprisals if they try to escape or complain to outsiders; tens of thousands of North Koreans, including children, held in prison camps are subjected to forced labor, including logging, mining, and farming; many North Korean women and girls, lured by promises of food, jobs, and freedom, have migrated to China illegally to escape poor social and economic conditions only to be forced into prostitution, domestic service, or agricultural work through forced marriages
tier rating: Tier 3 - North Korea does not fully comply with minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking and is not making significant efforts to do so; the government continued to participate in human trafficking through its use of domestic forced labor camps and the provision of forced labor to foreign governments through bilateral contracts; officials did not demonstrate any efforts to address human trafficking through prosecution, protection, or prevention measures; no known investigations, prosecutions, or convictions of trafficking offenders or officials complicit in trafficking-related offenses were conducted; the government also made no efforts to identify or protect trafficking victims and did not permit NGOs to assist victims (2015)
current situation: China is a source, transit, and destination country for men, women, and children subjected to sex trafficking and forced labor; Chinese adults and children are forced into prostitution and various forms of forced labor, including begging and working in brick kilns, coal mines, and factories; women and children are recruited from rural areas and taken to urban centers for sexual exploitation, often lured by criminal syndicates or gangs with fraudulent job offers; state-sponsored forced labor, where detainees work for up to four years often with no remuneration, continues to be a serious concern; Chinese men, women, and children also may be subjected to conditions of sex trafficking and forced labor worldwide, particularly in overseas Chinese communities; women and children are trafficked to China from neighboring countries, as well as Africa and the Americas, for forced labor and prostitution
tier rating: Tier 2 Watch List - China does not fully comply with the minimum standards for the elimination of trafficking; however, it is making significant efforts to do so; official data for 2014 states that 194 alleged traffickers were arrested and at least 35 were convicted, but the government’s conflation of human trafficking with other crimes makes it difficult to assess law enforcement efforts to investigate and to prosecute trafficking offenses according to international law; despite reports of complicity, no government officials were investigated, prosecuted, or convicted for their roles in trafficking offenses; authorities did not adequately protect victims and did not provide the data needed to ascertain the number of victims identified or assisted or the services provided; the National People’s Congress ratified a decision to abolish "reform through labor" in 2013, but some continued to operate as state-sponsored drug detention or "custody and education" centers that force inmates to perform manual labor; some North Korean refugees continued to be forcibly repatriated as illegal economic migrants, despite reports that some were trafficking victims (2015)

Source: CIA Factbook