North Korea

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조선 민주주의 인민 공화국

Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
Flag of North Korea
North Korea coat of arms
flag coat of arms
Official language Korean
Capital Pyongyang
State and form of government People's republic with one-party system , de facto dictatorship on a dynastic basis
Head of state Eternal President
Kim Il-sung † ( symbolic )
Chairman of the State Affairs Committee
" Supreme Leader " Kim Jong-un ( de facto )
Chairman of the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly
Choe Ryong-hae ( de jure )
Head of government Chairman of the Council of Ministers
Kim Tok-hun ( de jure )
area 120,538 (99th) km²
population 25,549,604 (2018, according to UN estimate)
24,052,231 (52nd) (2008, according to census)
Population density 200 (42nd) inhabitants per km²
Population development   0.384% per year
gross domestic product $ 18.8 billion (as of 2012)
Gross domestic product per inhabitant 783 USD (as of 2012)
Human Development Index nv
currency Won (= 100 Chon)
independence September 9, 1948 (from Chosen Province )
National anthem Ach'imŭn pinnara
Time zone UTC + 9
License Plate KP
ISO 3166 KP , PRK, 408
Internet TLD .kp
Telephone code +850
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The Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( Korean 조선 민주주의 인민 공화국 ,朝鮮民主主義人民共和國, [ t͡ɕo̞sʰʌ̹n mind͡ʑud͡ʑu (ɰ) i inmin ko̞ŋβwa̠ɡuk̚ ], Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk ), known as North Korea , is a state in East Asia . It was proclaimed on September 9, 1948 and covers the northern part of the Korean Peninsula . North Korea, although officially referred to as the " People's Democratic Republic ", is governed by dictatorship and is considered to be the world's most restrictive political system today. In the Democracy Index of The Economist magazine, the country ranks last of 167 places.

Until the annexation of Korea by Japan in 1910, there had been states that stretched across the entire peninsula. The division of the country began after the Second World War with the division of Korea into a US and a Soviet occupation zone , from which two independent states emerged as a result of the division of Korea in 1948 . The Korean War (1950 to 1953) sealed the division of the Korean peninsula (see Korean conflict ).

North Korea has been in the spotlight of the global public since around the year 2000 because of the development and transfer of military missile technology . In 2005 it was announced that a North Korean nuclear weapons program was in place . The government has come under international criticism for serious violations of human rights . In 2011, every twentieth North Korean was a member of the military .


In Germany , Austria , Switzerland and North Korea the term “Democratic People's Republic of Korea” (DPRK) is officially used. Until mid-December 2007, North Korea itself preferred the translation “Korean Democratic People's Republic” (KDVR) established in the GDR . Until 1977, the term “Korean People's Democratic Republic” (KVDR), which was decreed by the GDR Council of Ministers in 1949, was used in the GDR. At the request of the North Korean government, after Erich Honecker's state visit to North Korea in 1977, the name was changed to "Korean People's Democratic Republic".

In North Korea, the short form Chosŏn ( kor. 조선 ,朝鮮, Korea ) is common. In South Korea , where total Korea Hanguk held Choson is called, is the neighboring state Bukhan ( 북한 ,, "North Korea").


Satellite image of the Korean Peninsula (NASA, 2006)

In the north, the country borders on the People's Republic of China , and there is an approximately 19-kilometer-long border strip with Russia along the Tumen River . North Korea's west coast lies on Korea Bay , part of the Yellow Sea . In the south, the military demarcation line in the middle of the demilitarized zone forms the de facto border with South Korea (Republic of Korea) . To the east is the Sea of ​​Japan , which the North Koreans call the East Sea of Korea . South Korea is also involved in the name dispute over the Sea of ​​Japan .

The interior of the country is only sparsely populated because of its mountainous character. The population is concentrated in the coastal regions in the west and east of the country. Accordingly, the largest cities in North Korea are also located there; in addition to the capital Pyongyang , these are Hamhŭng , Kaesŏng , Sinŭiju and Ch'ŏngjin . North Korea is divided into nine provinces .

The highest mountain is the Paektusan (2,744 meters) in the Changbai Mountains on the border with China. The most important rivers are the Tumen (in the north) and the Amrok (better known by its Chinese name Yalu ).

Biggest cities

View over the old town of the former Goryeo- royal city Kaesŏng

By far the largest conurbation in North Korea is Pyongyang with a population of 3,702,757 (as of January 1, 2005). This means that 16 percent of the country's people live in the capital region.

The population figures apply to the day of the 2008 census and relate to the actual city without the suburban belt. The ten largest cities in North Korea are:

Cities in North Korea
rank Surname Residents 2008 Administrative unit
transcription Hangeul Hanja
1. Pyongyang 평양 平壤 3,255,288 Pyongyang
2. Hamhŭng 함흥 咸興 768,551 Hamgyŏng-namdo
3. Ch'ŏngjin 청진 淸 津 667.929 Hamgyŏng-pukto
4th Namp'o 남포 南浦 366.341 P'yŏngan-namdo
5. Wŏnsan 원산 元山 363.127 Kangwon-do
6th Sinŭiju 신의주 新 義 州 359.341 P'yŏngan-pukto
7th Tanch'on 단천 端 川 345,876 Hamgyŏng-namdo
8th. Kaech'ŏn 개천 价 川 319,554 P'yŏngan-namdo
9. Kaesŏng 개성 開 城 308,440 Hwanghae-pukto
10. Sariwon 사리원 沙 里 院 307.764 Hwanghae-pukto


Climate diagram Pyongyang

North Korea essentially has a temperate continental climate with four distinct seasons. The annual precipitation falls mainly during the monsoons (jangma) in the period from June to August. The winter months are characterized by cold and drought. Typhoons occasionally hit the country in autumn . Such a typhoon hit the northeast of the country particularly hard in August 2015 .


Population development
North Korea population pyramid 2016


North Korea is ethnically homogeneous - apart from a small Chinese minority in the north of the country - and has the lowest percentage of foreigners in the world. It is considered practically impossible to settle in North Korea as a foreigner. In 2017, 0.2% of the population was born abroad.

The population of North Korea grew from 12.3 to more than 25 million people between 1960 and 2016. According to North Korean statistics, life expectancy has decreased on average since 1986. According to the United Nations (UN), the average life expectancy in the period from 2010 to 2015 was 67.2 years for men and 74.1 years for women. The average infant mortality rate was 5.8 percent. The official North Korean census from 2008 puts the life expectancy of men at 65.6 years and that of women at 72.7 years. According to this census, the infant mortality rate in 2008 was 1.9 percent. Despite the numerous problems and poor facilities in the North Korean health system, it has been possible to increase life expectancy by almost 30 years since the end of the Korean War and to reduce child mortality. The fertility per woman in 2016 was 2.0 children per woman. With a median age of 34.2 years and a population growth rate of 0.5 percent annually, North Korea tends to have the demographic structure of significantly more developed countries.

Since the founding of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, driven by political repression and poor living conditions, there has been a strong flow of refugees since the turn of the millennium. The statistics of the South Korean Ministry for Reunification on the number of North Korean refugees arriving in the south show a clear upward trend. Before arriving in the south, many North Koreans lived in other countries (mostly in China) for a long time:

Refugees from North Korea arriving in South Korea each year (1990–2009)
  • until 1989: 607
  • 1990: 9
  • 1991: 9
  • 1992: 8
  • 1993: 8
  • 1994: 52
  • 1995: 41
  • 1996: 56
  • 1997: 85
  • 1998: 71
  • 1999: 148
  • 2000: 312
  • 2001: 583
  • 2002: 1,138
  • 2003: 1,281
  • 2004: 1,894
  • 2005: 1,383
  • 2006: 2.018
  • 2007: 2,544
  • 2008: 2,809
  • 2009: 2,927
  • 2010: 2,423
Panoramic view of Pyongyang

The inter-Korean land border crossing directly, is almost impossible. Relatively few North Korean refugees cross the sea border, most of them initially cross the comparatively little guarded border with China. It is believed that there are between 50,000 and 300,000 North Korean refugees in China who have not yet managed to make their way to South Korea or who have stayed in China for other reasons. China is deporting the captured refugees from North Korea to their home country. According to unconfirmed reports from Amnesty International , refugees returning from the Chinese border have been tortured and executed. During the time of the acute famine, the border was guarded relatively weakly and crossing was more or less tolerated; In 2008 it was reported that the situation was worsening. Thermal imaging cameras are increasingly being used.

Since Kim Jong-uns took office in 2012, the number of refugees arriving in South Korea fell from 2,500 to 3,000 to 1,400 to 1,500 per year. This is attributed to the specific measures taken by the North Korean government to curb the flow of refugees: a massive expansion of the fortifications on the Chinese border, a propaganda campaign that addresses the difficulties of adapting North Korean refugees and their discrimination in South Korea, as well as the partial legalization of stays abroad for normal citizens .

Political division

The government has divided the population into three categories / castes :

  1. “Comrades” means loyal people
  2. "Fluctuating persons"
  3. "Hostile people"

This classification was already made in the 1950s. In the 1960s a more refined system with 51 subgroups was introduced. The loyal category includes, for example, workers from a working class family, members of the Labor Party of Korea, and war heroes from the Korean War . Former traders and craftsmen belong to the group of “fluctuating people”. The group of “hostile people” includes workers with difficult social backgrounds, that is, former entrepreneurs and civil servants, former large farmers, people who were involved in pro-Japanese or pro-US American activities, and devout Christians and Buddhists.

This social background influences access to training and employment as well as to goods such as food distributed by the government. It is estimated that around a quarter of the population belongs to the category of the hostile. In the last few years the social order of North Korea has experienced a certain loss of importance. The material status of a person (if he does not belong to the nomenklatura ) is increasingly no longer dependent on the state supply system due to the economic upheaval, but is more and more a result of trading in the newly created markets.


The traditional religions of Korea are Buddhism and Confucianism . For a long time, Christianity was particularly strongly represented in Pyongyang. There alone there were around 100 churches with 13,000 to 14,000 believers around 1907, which is why the city was also known as the " Jerusalem of the East". In 2006 a Russian Orthodox church was opened in Pyongyang , the fourth Christian church in the capital of North Korea.

Article 68 of the North Korean constitution grants its citizens the freedom to practice their religion as long as this is not used for infiltration by external forces or to violate state and social order . Nonetheless, Christian organizations such as Open Doors report that practicing Christians are interned in re-education camps. Some existing churches appear to be used for propaganda purposes. The right enshrined in the constitution is denied to Christians because it is not a state-controlled organization. According to Open Doors, there is an active underground church . According to South Korean human rights activists, there is nothing that could be called that. North Korea has been in first place on the World Persecution Index of Christians for 14 years, partly because possession of a Bible is punishable by the death penalty or labor camps are punishable by family liability . Amnesty International also criticizes the lack of religious freedom and the internment of Christians.


Schooling in North Korea is compulsory and free of charge up to the second level. School children were provided free school uniforms until the early 1990s. The first grade lasts four years, the second grade includes six years of training. A previous one-year visit to the kindergarten is also compulsory. The literacy rate is said to be 99 percent. According to Shin Dong-hyuk , children detained in concentration camps receive a rudimentary form of schooling that prepares them for forced labor. In The Aquariums of Pyongyang, Kang Chol-hwan describes his school attendance in the revolutionary zone of the Yod Yk concentration camp , which functions as a re-education camp and was characterized by abuse and indoctrination .

Higher education

The Higher Education in North Korea consists of two branches, one for academic higher education and further for education. The academic sector consists of universities, technical colleges and technical schools. Postgraduate courses for Master's and PhD-equivalent degrees are offered at universities. Kim Il-sung University and Pyongyang University of Science and Technology play an important role in North Korean higher education . Kim Il Sung University has around 16,000 students. The Technical University of Kim Ch'aek also conducts nuclear research, among other things.

In 2015, the Palace of Science and Technology was built in Pyongyang on the island of Ssuk-sŏm .


The history before World War II can be found under History of Korea .

Establishment of a workers 'and peasants' state

After the Second World War came to an end in 1945 with the surrender of Japan , the Chosen Province , which corresponded to the area of Korea , which had been incorporated and colonized by the Japanese Empire since 1910 , was divided by the victorious powers into two zones of occupation along the 38th parallel . The south was occupied by US troops and the north came under the control of the Red Army .

The Soviet Union had a strategic interest in building a well-meaning Korean state. This should serve as a buffer against Japan, since the Korean peninsula was seen as a possible base of operations for an attack on the Soviet Union. Apart from the fact that Japan and Russia can look back on a conflicting history, this strategy accelerated Japan's rapprochement with the USA . In what follows, a workers-and-peasants state based on Marxist-Leninist ideas was to be built in North Korea .

At the end of 1945, a strong immigration movement of ethnic Koreans from the Soviet Union (especially from the Central Asian Soviet Republics) began, which strengthened the communist groups in the north. The state authorities in the Soviet Union particularly advocated the relocation of “politically educated” Koreans. On October 13, 1945, the North Korean Office of the Communist Party of Korea was formed as a section of the All-Korean Communist Party (based in Seoul ), and Kim Il-sung was appointed chairman in December .

The flag of the state party PDAK with hammer, brush and sickle

In February 1946, the People's Provisional Committee was formed, headed by Kim Il-sung. In the spring, the North Korean section of the CP split off and formed its own “Communist Party of North Korea”, which on July 29 unified with the left New People's Party to form the North Korean Labor Party. Kim Du-bong became the first general secretary . After the North Korean section split off, the South Korean communists also united with other left-wing parties to form the Nam-joseon-rodong party (South Joseon Labor Party). In the period that followed, the American occupation forces increased their pressure on the communist underground movement. Leading party members were arrested, the rest fled to the north, from where underground work continued in the south. In June 1949, the two parties united to form the Labor Party of Korea , of which Kim Il-sung became chairman. In addition, a united national front was formed with the Korean Democratic Party and the Chondoist Ch'ŏngu Party .

In 1946 the country's economic transformation began. In the spring a land reform was carried out and in the late summer the nationalization of the industrial enterprises began.

Active and passive women's suffrage was guaranteed under Allied administration in the Gender Equality Act , which was introduced on July 30, 1946. On November 3, 1946, elections were held for the so-called People's Committees, the local administrative bodies. There was only the option of voting for or against the united front. Officially, 97 percent of the votes cast went to the united front. The 1st Congress of People's Committees determined the first North Korean government under Kim Il-sung on February 17, 1947 and elected the North Korean People's Committee as a kind of parliament .

In late autumn 1947 the drafting of a constitution was officially announced, which seemed to seal the early proclamation of an independent North Korean state. The constitution was drafted in Moscow and finally approved by Stalin . On August 25, 1948, elections were held for the Supreme People's Assembly (OVV), which confirmed the constitution on September 8. A day later, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea was proclaimed.

The Republic of Korea had previously been proclaimed on August 15 in Seoul . Both states did not recognize each other and saw each other as the only legitimate Korean state.

Korean War (1950–1953)

American bombing in Wonsan , 1951

After the withdrawal of Soviet and American troops from North and South Korea, North Korean troops crossed the border with the Republic of Korea on June 25, 1950. The aim of the attack was to end the division of Korea and to integrate South Korea into the socialist People's Democratic Republic. At first, the north managed to advance rapidly and conquer almost the entire Korean peninsula. Troops of the UN and especially the US Air Force managed to stop the advance. The troops of the south and its allies now conquered North Korea and advanced to the Chinese border. China came to the aid of the north with military volunteer organizations. In this now de facto American-Chinese conflict, the front finally stabilized close to the starting positions. The US Air Force destroyed North Korean cities in a war of annihilation, killing around 1.5 million people. On July 27, 1953, an armistice agreement was signed in Panmunjeom , which laid down a demarcation line at the 38th parallel that was slightly different from the pre-war situation. A demilitarized zone was created and a neutral monitoring commission was set up. About three million civilians died in this war, more than three times the number of soldiers killed.

Reign of Kim Il-sung (1948–1994)

The consolidation of sole rule

In the 1950s, Kim Il-sung worked to consolidate his undisputed leadership position in state and party. Until then, the Labor Party of Korea consisted of various factions that had little sympathy for one another. In the years from 1957 to 1962 the officials loyal to Beijing and Moscow were eliminated, which strengthened Kim's position in the long term. On December 15, 1955, Foreign Minister Pak Hon-yong was sentenced to death (allegation: he was an American spy). In 1956, Mu Chong , a former general in the Chinese army and chief of staff during the Korean War, was executed as a representative of the Yan'an group at the general headquarters of the combined forces of China and North Korea.

In 1958, further purges followed , directed against pro-Soviet cadres such as Hŏ Ka-i , sympathizers of Khrushchev 's thaw policy, and officials linked to China such as Kim Du-bong . The "purges" developed from a temporary phenomenon to a permanent, systemic phenomenon. In 1997 there was such a campaign against reform-minded members of the army and party cadres, among them the chairman of the Council of Ministers Kang Song-san .

From the mid-1960s, Kim Il-sung was referred to as the Great Leader in the North Korean media . Until then, the designation leader had been reserved for Lenin and Stalin (both within North Korea and in the international communist movement in general) .

Thanks to the material support from China and the Soviet Union, industrial production in North Korea could be brought back to pre-war levels. By the late 1960s, the North Korean economy showed signs of stagnation similar to that of other Eastern Bloc countries . A decline in agricultural production and the shortage of consumer goods led to a decline in the economy; the immense military spending was an additional burden.

The Sino-Soviet rift that emerged after Stalin's death (1953) over the further development of communism complicated the situation in North Korea. At first one navigated between the two neighboring great powers. The criticism of the Soviet leadership of Stalin (among other things, Khrushchev scourged Stalin's personality cult in his secret speech at the 20th party congress of the CPSU in February 1956 ) was understood by Kim Il-sung as a questioning of his own position. He also rejected the concept of peaceful coexistence propagated by the Soviet Union . In 1962, Kim sided with Mao Zedong ; like Mao, he adhered strictly to the traditional political style and thus to the personality cult. The decisive factor for the break with the Soviet Union was its behavior in the Cuban Missile Crisis (October 1962), which the North Koreans understood as defeatism . The Soviet Union then cut all aid to North Korea, which, along with Albania, became one of China's closest allies. China, which was itself caught in the turmoil of the Cultural Revolution , could not replace the USSR as a trading partner. Efforts to achieve independence from the Soviet Union in terms of military strategy put an additional strain on the North Korean economy; therefore, from 1965 onwards, Kim Il-sung worked again towards normalizing relations with the USSR.


The propagation of the Chuch'e ideology towards the end of the 1960s, which defined North Korea's self-sufficiency as the primary goal, appears to be a reaction to North Korea's increasingly isolated position. Kim Il-sung was henceforth referred to as the Great Leader . The country's isolation was also compounded by the government's attempts to keep South Korea's economic successes and decline in the north a secret from the North Korean people.

The temporary break with Moscow led to a more aggressive stance towards South Korea ; the moderating influence of the Soviet Union no longer existed. At the end of the 1960s there were military operations in North Korea. In January 1968, the North Korean Navy hijacked the US spy ship USS Pueblo (AGER-2) , and after North Korean soldiers penetrated the territory of the south, fighting between North and South Korean forces broke out on the demarcation line .

The so-called First Nuclear Crisis in 1994 was marked by mobilizations in North and South Korea and the ordering of the highest alert of the US units on site.

Personality cult and clan rule

Worker in a Rice Field (1986)

In 1972 North Korea adopted a new constitution under which Kim Il-sung was declared president. The cult around his person, assumed hitherto unknown proportions and the family Kim was involved (both Kim Jong-il , his successor, and his late wife Kim Jong-suk ). The “ dictatorship of the proletariat ” developed more and more towards the rule of a few family clans with the Kims family at the top ( oligarchy ). In addition to his son, Kim's third wife, Kim Song-ae , who held high positions in party and mass organizations, was also involved.

Kim Jong-il's reign (1994–2011)

Kim Il-sung died in 1994. After a three-year state-ordered period of mourning, his son Kim Jong-il took over the post of General Secretary of the Labor Party of Korea . He had been chairman of the National Defense Commission since 1993, but in 1998 it gained considerable influence due to a constitutional amendment . The post of president remains vacant to this day, as the 1998 constitutional amendment made Kim Il-sung the Eternal President . Kim Jong-il was referred to as a Beloved Leader , later a Great Leader like the Father.

The period since the collapse of the socialist bloc has been characterized in North Korea by a relatively uncompromising adherence to the status quo . This can be seen both in socialist economic policy and in foreign and defense policy, which continues to be oriented towards isolation . The reason for this is the assumption of the North Korean leadership that a deviation from the previous line, a softening of the Stalinist regime, would inevitably lead to its overthrow, which can be observed in the former Eastern European brother states.

Kim Jong-il reportedly died of a heart attack on December 17, 2011 while on a train ride. On the day the death was announced, on December 19, 2011, his son, Kim Jong-un , was named his successor by the official Korean news agency.

Nutritional situation

With the collapse of the Eastern Bloc , North Korea's foreign trade came to an almost complete standstill in the early 1990s. The import of cheap crude oil , spare parts for machines, artificial fertilizers and food from the Soviet Union was almost completely broken down. Food production, which was structurally too low in any case, was further inhibited from 1994 onwards as a result of the completion of a dam, through which large parts of the already little cultivated areas were flooded. As a result of these developments and serious errors in the reaction of the North Korean government, which did not want to let aid into the country in the first few years of the crisis, there was a severe famine , with its direct and indirect consequences from 1994 to 1999 a large number of North Koreans died. The number of victims is only approximately known to this day. Initial estimates ranged between 220,000 and 3.5 million fatalities, later studies assumed a number between 600,000 and one million.

In March of 2011, informed a study group from the World Food Program of the United Nations , the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and UNICEF composed, the world community that about six million North Koreans are at risk of hunger. The World Food Program then started an emergency operation to provide food to 3.5 million North Koreans. Internationally, this emergency aid operation is also viewed critically, as representatives of many states fear that the North Korean government would dramatize the situation in order to obtain aid by fraud and then misuse it. According to the first report by a UN emergency aid coordinator since 2002, in this case by Valerie Amos , the daily public distribution rations had to be halved from 400 to 200 grams per person. The annual requirement of 5.3 million tons of grain was missing about one million tons. Because of the chronic nutritional crisis, every third child under the age of five is short. In 2015, according to World Bank figures, 41.6% of the population were malnourished.

On March 29, 2016, state media announced another "arduous march", a terminology that the leadership had already used during the 1994 famine. The population was called upon to save food. In February 2019, North Korea told the United Nations that due to bad weather conditions and sanctions, 1.4 million tons of food would be missing. As a result, the state food rations would have to be cut in half.

Developing Relations between North and South Korea

In 2000, Kim Dae-jung's success in relaxation between North and South Korea became apparent as part of the sunshine policy . For some time it was possible to visit family members who had been separated for decades due to the Korean division. It was agreed to renew the traffic connections between the two countries, which were previously out of service. South Korean tourists were subsequently able to visit the Kŭmgang Mountains until 2008, when a South Korean woman was shot dead by a North Korean soldier under circumstances that were not fully clarified . South Korean companies have been producing in North Korean special economic zones ( Kaesŏng industrial region ) since 2003 . The teams of North and South Korea marched together at the 2000 Olympic Games . Finally, the two heads of state even held the first summit in Pyongyang.

Under the South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, however, the relationship between the two countries cooled noticeably. Lee had already announced during the election campaign that he would pursue a tougher foreign policy line towards North Korea. The North Korean government finally announced that it would close the borders to the south on December 1, 2008. This measure mainly affects trips by South Koreans to the tourist areas of North Korea near the border. This was preceded by actions by South Korean non-governmental organizations, which had thrown thousands of leaflets over North Korea with the help of balloons. It contained information about Kim Jong-il's health and family relationships. Both topics are considered taboos in North Korea. The North Korean leadership was correspondingly angry and accused South Korea of ​​pursuing hostile policies.

A new low in relations with South Korea was the sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan on March 26, 2010, in which 46 seamen were killed. The ship sank near Baengnyeongdo Island after an explosion. Baengnyeong is part of South Korea, but lies off the North Korean coast. The sea border between the two Korean states is controversial. An expert commission made up of representatives from South Korea, the USA and other Western countries came to the conclusion that the ship had been sunk by a North Korean torpedo. North Korea denied being involved in the incident.

On 23 November 2010 North Korea fired units in an artillery duel with the South Korean military inhabited and developed for military base South Korean island of Yeonpyeong with more than 100 grenades , two South Korean soldiers and two South Korean civilians were killed. A military conflict of this magnitude had not occurred since the end of the Korean War.

Reign of Kim Jong-us (since 2011)

Former double statue of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il

After Kim Jong-il's death on December 17, 2011, his youngest son, Kim Jong-un, succeeded his father as head of state. However, it is believed that his uncle Jang Song Thaek played a decisive role in shaping the country's politics until his arrest. Army leaders are also involved in decisions as functionaries.

North Korea officially declared itself a nuclear power in mid-April 2012 by way of a constitutional amendment .

In his 2013 New Year's speech, Kim Jong-un spoke of a possible reconciliation with the South and made hints that a modernization of the state under his rule would appear possible.

Foreign policy crisis

After the UN imposed stricter sanctions against North Korea and the United States of America announced joint military maneuvers with South Korea, Kim announced new nuclear tests in the spring of 2013 , proclaimed martial law , put the armed forces in full readiness, threatened both South Korea and the United States States with a nuclear preemptive strike and temporarily closed access to the Kaesŏng Special Economic Zone . The international community, including the PR China , an ally of North Korea, sharply condemned these threatening gestures and urged North Korea to exercise moderation.

The United States believed the threats were mostly war rhetoric, but responded by announcing that it would build additional anti-missile defense stations on its Pacific islands , such as Guam , to intercept a possible attack. In June 2013, relations between the Korean states relaxed again.

In 2018 North Korea took part in the Winter Olympics in South Korea and competed in women's ice hockey in a joint North and South Korean team.

According to the expert report to the UN Security Council in early February it became known in 2018, bypassed North Korea 2017 UN - trade embargo "on a grand scale." Coal is exported, crude oil and iron imported, ships fly under false flags and with forged shipping documents. According to this, 40 deliveries were made to the Syrian chemical weapons program between 2012 and 2017. Ballistic missiles and rocket launchers were supplied to Myanmar. According to the German Federal Office for the Protection of the Constitution (BfV), high-tech components (partly dual-use goods) for the North Korean missile and nuclear weapons program were procured via the embassy in Berlin .

Inner power struggle

In early December 2013, the vice chairman of the North Korean National Defense Commission , Jang Song Thaek, was arrested and ousted. He was accused of high treason , bribery , gambling addiction , drug abuse , wasting money and selling off raw materials to the People's Republic of China . Jang was born on December 12, 2013 executed . At the same time, Jang's widow and sister of Kim Jong-il, Kim Kyŏng-hŭi , was appointed to the committee for the state funeral of the member of the Politburo of the Central Committee of the PdAK and chairman of the party control commission Kim Kuk-thae in mid-December 2013 .

In February 2017, Kim Jong-was our half-brother Kim Jong-nam on the Kuala Lumpur murdered .


Political system

According to the constitution, North Korea is a socialist state. Classic Marxism-Leninism was officially replaced in 1977 by the Chuch'e ideology developed by state founder Kim Il-sung , which is supposed to represent a further development of the state ideology. In 2009, references to communism were also deleted from the constitution and a militarist state was codified.

Ballot box at a North Korean polling station

The government apparatus is dominated by the Labor Party of Korea (abbr .: PdAK ), whose leadership role is enshrined in the constitution. There are also two other, smaller block parties . These parties are united in the Democratic Front for the reunification of the fatherland . The highest power body of the state is formally the parliament ( Supreme People's Assembly ), whose members are elected for five years. However, since this only meets once or twice a year for a few days in the Mansudae Congress Hall, the country is governed by the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly during the breaks. Its chairman, currently Choe Ryong-hae , is formally the head of state . However, he can only exercise this office in terms of protocol , since Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994, is de jure head of state and he is de facto subordinate to the Supreme Leader . The role of government is played by the Council of Ministers . Its chairman and thus the formal head of government is Pak Pong-ju . This is appointed by the Supreme People's Assembly , which in turn appoints the ministers. There is also the Defense Committee , which is responsible for foreign policy and is in command of the military.

The procedure for filling public office is called " democratic centralism " in the constitution . In the non-free sham elections , the only candidate nominated by the Labor Party of Korea with 100 percent of the vote and a turnout of just under 100 percent is the winner. According to the constitution, all citizens aged 17 and over without mental illness are entitled to vote. The right to vote can be revoked by a court judgment. However, this formal constitutional order has no practical significance.

The actual power structures within the country are diffuse. Abroad, North Korea is commonly seen as a totalitarian , Stalinist dictatorship led by Kim Jong-uns . However, some academic circles denote the political system of North Korea following the acquisition of structures from the period of Japanese rule over Korea , through which the governance within the Kim- clans dynastic inherited is as de facto absolute monarchy with clear parallels to the Japanese Empire under Tennō Hirohito in the 1930s to 40s.

Brian Reynolds Myers also emphasizes the parallels to the racist - xenophobic ideology of the pre-fascist- colonial Japanese military dictatorship . The aim is to unite all Koreans (who are portrayed as genetically superior) in an ethnically homogeneous state. Other authors emphasize the parallels to European fascism , since Japanese militarism, unlike European fascism, lacked a charismatic leader . Because of the existence of concentration camps , some observers refer to North Korea as a National Socialist regime.

Since the death of Kim Il-sung, the post of President has not been filled, as this is forever reserved for Kim Il-sung (the Eternal President ). Kim Jong-Il, however, combined the chairmanship of the Labor Party of Korea and the Defense Committee , among other top positions , which parliament has since declared the highest office in the state. This can be seen as a consequence of the Songun policy introduced by Kim Jong-Il , according to which all concerns of the state are subordinate to the development and improvement of the military. "Protecting the revolutionary leadership at all costs is the highest patriotism and the first priority of our military and the people," said the South Korean news agency Yonhap in an editorial in the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper . This is justified with a threat scenario based on the always acute danger of an invasion by foreign troops. Last but not least, Songun also justifies the development of the nuclear arsenal. In mid-April 2012, the Supreme People's Assembly passed a constitutional amendment stating that the ruler Kim Jong Il, who died in 2011, had turned the country into a state in possession of nuclear weapons and an indomitable military power. As a result, the population repeatedly suffers from famine, there is a shortage of consumer goods, the infrastructure is inadequate and the health system is inadequate.

Officials in North Korea reacted to the civil war in Libya in 2011 by saying that Libya shouldn't have given up its nuclear program. The New York Times quoted a blog entry by Korean specialist Rüdiger Frank , according to which, from a North Korean perspective, moving away from Songun politics is a long way off.

Human rights

North Korean border house at P'anmunjŏm, seen from South Korea
Concentration camp in North Korea

North Korea is one of the countries where human rights are least respected. Criticism of the leadership is severely punished. The media is fully controlled by the state, and unauthorized gatherings are prohibited. North Koreans are not allowed to leave the country. The place of residence in one's own country is also prescribed by the authorities and depends on one's personal political caste . People sentenced to death are often executed in public .

Human rights groups report that there are several concentration and re-education camps in the country, mainly of political prisoners and people arrested for their beliefs. Even pregnant women are forced to work long and hard in these camps . The detainees are at the mercy of the guards, and there have been reports of torture , some even to the point of death. Detainees died as a result of torture, starvation, food deprivation, or were executed for minor offenses. According to Western aid organizations, around 200,000 people are interned (as of 2005), of which around 10 to 20 percent die each year as a result of the miserable camp conditions or executions. A few witnesses (for example Kang Chol-hwan or Lee Soon-ok ) who managed to escape from the camps and from North Korea also report human experiments on prisoners with gases or viruses.

One of the more detailed accounts of the situation in these camps comes from Shin Dong-hyuk . Born in 1982 in the Kaechon concentration camp , he was never intended to leave it, because the family members of a convicted person are punished due to the family liability practiced in North Korea . As a result, their descendants also spend their entire lives in the camps. Unusually by North Korean standards, he was not even instructed in ideology and the concept of the state. After living in the camp for 22 years, witnessing the execution of his mother and brother, months of torture, severing his finger and witnessing countless public executions, he escaped in January 2005. Via China he reached South Korea in 2006, where he has lived since then and, together with human rights organizations, tries to draw attention to the situation in North Korea. The Haengyŏng Concentration Camp has a gas chamber in which, according to the former camp commandant Kwon Hyuk, prisoners were gassed for demonstration purposes. The escaped guard Ahn Myong-chol also reported human experiments in the Haengyŏng camp.

Religious freedom is only formally guaranteed in North Korea (see section Religion ).

North Koreans who fled to China and were deported back to North Korea from China are said to have been executed, sometimes in public, to deter compatriots from fleeing. At the beginning of 2005, 70 people are said to have been executed in this context in just one month.

The distribution of food and other relief goods delivered from abroad has always been carried out by the authorities. The government made things worse, especially during the famine of the 1990s, by favoring pro-government people, and especially the military. Since a fair distribution of the relief supplies could not be guaranteed, several aid organizations withdrew from North Korea.

On February 17, 2014 Commission of Inquiry puts the UN in Geneva as detailed as never had a report of 372 pages before: Based on field reports of dozens of exiles and refugees are the regime in Pyongyang systematic and widespread human rights violations, many of which are crimes against humanity are , accused: extermination, enslavement and starvation of their own population. The experts recommend whether the plight of the population is not general sanctions , but sanctions against the responsible officials and their indictment before an international criminal court , which was also communicated in a letter to the North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, according to the head of the UN Commission Michael Kirby . As North Korea's closest ally and a permanent member of the UN Security Council , the People's Republic of China has so far prevented such charges.

Freedom of information

The public media is completely controlled by the state and its news agency KCNA . Citizens have virtually no access to independent and foreign news sources. In the ranking of press freedom published by Reporters Without Borders , North Korea was always last from its first publication in 2002 to 2006, and penultimate between 2007 and 2016. In 2017, the country was again in last place.

In June 2004 - 18 months after the first cellular network operator went into service - the North Korean government ordered all cell phones to be withdrawn and all cellular operators banned. The aim is to prevent unpleasant information from entering or leaving the country or from being able to exchange information between opponents of the regime . In December 2008, Koryolink , a joint venture between the Egyptian telecom conglomerate Orascom Telecom and the North Korean state postal and communications authority, received a license to operate a UMTS cellular network in Pyongyang. The only mobile operator to date already had over 100,000 subscribers in June 2010, and in February 2012 the one million mark was reached. As of 2012, however, it was neither possible to make calls abroad nor to use the mobile Internet. Furthermore, the officially imported mobile devices must not have memory cards , video cameras or a Bluetooth function. According to media reports, people who want to have a cell phone connection must, in addition to their personal data, also provide a declaration that they will not make calls whose content affects state secrets and that they will not use the device improperly. In addition, a permit from the security authorities should be required, which is only granted to the nomenklatura . In the border area with China, however, people should be able to use Chinese devices to access the network of the neighboring country and thus also be able to make international calls.

The North Korean government is keen to prevent free reporting in North Korea. Journalists , including those from abroad, are only allowed to move around the country when accompanied by state-appointed inspectors. In January 2012, the Associated Press was allowed to open a correspondent's office in Pyongyang. AP became the first foreign news agency that is allowed to report regularly from the country. The few foreign journalists only officially enter the country “at the invitation of government-related structures”. Since independent journalism is not possible, the Japanese newspaper Rimjin-gang has to resort to North Koreans, who smuggle information out of the country secretly and at high risk, which is then passed on via China.

The country's strong isolation and restrictive information policy encourages rumors and speculation abroad. In March 2014, for example, the BBC reported an alleged rule that part of the population had to wear the Kim Jong-uns hairstyle. The message goes back to a publication by the US radio station Radio Free Asia and was then adopted by numerous media. Observations by informants of the online portal NK News , which specializes in North Korea, could not confirm the report. A hairdressing salon, which a ZDF team was able to visit in 2017 to document the everyday life of the people, offered 18 hairstyles for women and 10 for men, with which the citizens express their solidarity with the state. In the course of the report, a very cautious and controlled opening of the country was established, but with strict isolation of all foreigners from locals, apart from a few arranged contacts with selected interlocutors.

In 2004 a reading room of the Goethe Institute was opened in Pyongyang . In addition to German literature, the holdings mainly included practical specialist books from medicine to civil engineering. In addition, German magazines and newspapers were also accessible there until 2007. Whether it was actually possible for the North Korean population to accept this offer was, however, controversial from the start. In the first three months of 2007 around 50 visitors came to the reading room; in November 2009 it was closed by the Goethe-Institut. Violations of the contract on the part of the North Korean side, which only allowed cadres loyal to the regime to have unhindered access to the literature, were named as the cause . In October 2008, the German Ambassador to North Korea, Thomas Schäfer , succeeded in having the United Buddy Bears' unifying project in the city center of Pyongyang be exhibited for more than three weeks. It was the first public art exhibition from abroad that was freely accessible to everyone.

According to media reports, 2006 World Cup matches were shown on Korean Central TV, but not live. Games won by teams from hostile states were not broadcast. The 2010 World Cup matches for which the North Korean team was able to qualify were broadcast with the help of the Asia-Pacific Broadcasting Union . Negotiations with the South Korean broadcaster SBS , which owns the rights for the entire Korean Peninsula and provided the images for North Korea in 2006, had previously failed due to political tensions. The recording of the first game against Brazil was broadcast a day later. The second game against Portugal was broadcast live.


North Korea is essentially isolated from the global internet . However, it can be assumed that the nomenklatura will be granted access to the Internet. A number of government agencies, as well as government employees, tour guides and students with whom Western visitors are allowed to converse, have email addresses with providers in China, which are a North Korean-Chinese joint venture. These can also be reached from the West, provided the sender has been previously registered with official North Korean offices.

There is a nationwide intranet called Kwangmyong , which mainly connects companies, agencies and ministries. In the Great People's Study Hall , western visitors can watch students chatting over this intranet. Civil use by employees of the affiliated organizations is possible to a limited extent. However, it should be possible to use Kwangmyong on tablets via a VPN connection. However, WLAN or Bluetooth are not available.

Through the organization Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea, the North Korean state operates the website Minjok Tongshin as well as the online service Uriminzokkiri , which provides news in Korean, English and Russian as well as content from North Korean television on YouTube.

In September 2014, foreign embassies were banned from using WiFi . The background to this action was that the messages did not encrypt their WLAN, so that anyone could surf the Internet via these networks. It is believed that the embassies deliberately left their WiFi unencrypted to allow North Korean citizens to access foreign websites. Allegedly, housing prices in the direct vicinity of the embassies are said to have risen as a result.

Foreign policy

States with a North Korean embassy

In the first few years after its founding, North Korea only had relations with other communist states. A foreign policy opening began in the 1960s and 70s with the accession to the movement of the non-aligned states and the establishment of relations with countries of the Third World. After the collapse of the North Korean economy due to the collapse of the Eastern Bloc in the early 1990s, the country had to close part of its embassies due to a lack of financial resources. At the same time, North Korea first established relationships with market-economy states in the western world.

The country is largely isolated because of its nuclear program and the grave human rights violations that North Korea has been accused of. North Korea itself justified its nuclear program as fundamental to its national security and invoked its national sovereignty. The country still maintains strong relations with Laos , Vietnam and Cambodia in Southeast Asia. Other countries with better relations with North Korea are Cuba , Venezuela , Russia and Iran . There are reports that Iran and North Korea have cooperated on their respective nuclear programs. The country's only nominal ally is the People's Republic of China. North Korea has an overwhelming economic and political dependency on China, as most of the country's foreign trade passes through the Chinese border. Recently, however, relations have cooled significantly due to repeated North Korean missile tests. In September 2017, China approved UN Security Council Resolution 2375, which significantly tightened economic sanctions against the country.

North Korea, along with Bhutan , Iran and Syria, is one of the countries that does not have official diplomatic relations with the United States. Other countries with which the country has no relations or which have broken off relations may include: A. Argentina , Botswana , Estonia , France , Iraq , Saudi Arabia , Israel , Japan and Taiwan . Relations with South Korea and Japan are characterized by considerable tension. With Japan, the repeated kidnappings of Japanese citizens and the country's nuclear program are points of contention. The quality of the relations with the brother state South Korea has fluctuated very strongly in the history of the two countries. After the intensification of North Korea's nuclear and missile program in the course of 2017, relations initially reached an all-time low and all bilateral cooperation was suspended. In May 2018, however, a rapprochement between the two countries was decided at a meeting between Kim Jong-un and the President of South Korea, Moon Jae-in . Results of the meeting were A. the reintroduction of the common Korean Time and the decision to end the still existing state of war between the two states by the end of 2018.

International treaties

North Korea signed a friendship treaty with the Soviet Union and the People's Republic of China in 1961, which included mutual military and economic aid. Russia terminated the treaty on August 7, 1996, shortly before its expiry in September of that year, and replaced it with a treaty signed in 2006 that no longer contained a military assistance clause. The treaty with the People's Republic of China is still in force, but the mutual obligations have been reduced.

On September 17, 1991, North Korea became a member of the United Nations . It joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in December 1985 and left in April 2003.

At the beginning of September 2012, a scientific and technological cooperation agreement was signed in Tehran with the likewise politically isolated Iran . The meeting between Foreign Minister Chun Ui-Pak and the Iranian Research Minister Kamran Daneshjoo also took Kim Yong-nam and Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in part. The agreement provides for the establishment of joint laboratories, the exchange of scientific working groups and technology transfers in the areas of information technology, energy, the environment, agriculture and nutrition.


Conventional armed forces

Korean People's Army (KVA) soldier

According to North Korean historiography, a Korean Revolutionary Army was founded by Kim Il-sung on July 6, 1932 to fight for Chosen's independence from the Japanese Empire. On April 25, 1932, an Anti-Japanese People's Partisan Army (APVA) was founded, from which the Korean People's Revolutionary Army (KRVA) emerged in March 1934. With the exception of an attack on a police station in Pochonbo on June 4, 1934, which was propagandistically exaggerated as a battle, the KPRA had only limited presence during the period when Korea was a province of Japan. While the decisive role of the Soviet Army in the liberation of Korea from Japanese colonial rule was officially recognized until the early 1960s, for a long time North Korean historiography only said that the KPRA under the leadership of Kim Il-sung had liberated Korea. Today the part of the Soviet Army in the liberation of North Korea is at least partially recognized again.

Even before the People's Republic was founded on September 9, 1948, the Korean People's Army (KVA) was set up on February 8, 1947 and was heavily upgraded in the following years. At that time, the KVA comprised around 200,000 soldiers. Instructors and weapons came from the Soviet Union.

The paramilitary workers and peasants Red Army have existed since 1959.

The land and air forces are each the second largest in Asia after those of the People's Republic of China. In total, more than a million soldiers are constantly under arms. The service period is three to seven years, depending on the type of weapon. The training is accompanied by indoctrination, which makes it a sacred duty for every KVA soldier to fight to the last drop of blood for the defense of the People's Republic and the reunification of the peninsula and the liberation of South Korea from the US troops. The weapons are largely considered to be out of date, and problems with spare parts are likely to further limit operational readiness.

In addition to the main opponents South Korea and its allies USA, Japan in particular is an essential part of the Korean People's Army because of its earlier colonial policy from 1910 to 1945.

Nuclear weapons and missile program

Since around the turn of the millennium, North Korea has been in the spotlight of the world because of the dispute over its nuclear weapons program . According to its own information, the state has several ready-to-use atomic bombs. A currently in North Korea being developed intercontinental ballistic missile of the type Taepodong-2 is intended, equipped with a nuclear warhead, the west coast of the United States can achieve.

According to its own information, North Korea successfully carried out an underground nuclear test for the first time on October 9, 2006. Measurements by Russian and South Korean experts confirmed the report that an explosion had been carried out. However, it has not yet been fully clarified whether it was a nuclear or a conventional demolition. On October 10, 2006, South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted a North Korean government official as saying, "We hope the situation is resolved before an unfortunate incident occurs and we fire a nuclear missile," which is seen as an indirect threat.

In October 2007, North Korea began to destroy its nuclear facilities with US and other international experts. In return, economic aid and other aid measures for the population were granted. After the cooling tower of the Nyŏngbyŏn nuclear reactor was blown up on June 27, 2008 , US President George W. Bush announced the lifting of trade sanctions and had North Korea removed from the list of countries supporting terrorism.

In February 2013, North Korea carried out another nuclear test, which met with strong international criticism. At the beginning of March 2013, Kim Jong-un threatened a preventive nuclear strike against the USA if the UN sanctions were to be intensified. However, as expected, the latter happened on March 7, 2013. On the evening of January 5, 2016, North Korea reported the successful test of a hydrogen bomb. Shortly afterwards, on February 8, 2016, North Korea managed to launch a long-range missile that put a satellite into orbit. However, experts and international observers believed that the purpose of the launch was to test missile technology to develop a nuclear warhead-carrying missile that could reach the United States of America. On April 9, 2016 was boosters for intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) type successfully tested CN 14th

The developments brought about by the North Korean missile program made a series of technological leaps from 2013 to 2017, which experts believe must have been based on foreign developments. In July 2017, North Korea's first real ICBM was tested with the Hwasong-14 with a range of 3400 miles. The United Nations Security Council subsequently imposed further sanctions in September 2017. As a result of the missile tests, the People's Republic of China throttled the export of diesel and gasoline to North Korea, so that the only remaining supplier is assumed to be tankers from the Russian Federation, from Vladivostok , that supplied North Korean ports with fuel without entering international waters . A little later, however, Chinese ships were detected by US spy satellites , as they were delivering fuel to North Korean ships at sea in around 30 cases between October and December 2017.

A Hwasong-15 missile was launched from North Korea on November 29, 2017 . Pyongyang said that the missile could reach the entire mainland of the United States. The American missile expert Lance Gatling said: "So far the North Koreans have only shown that they can hit the Pacific".

On April 20, 2018, North Korea declared that it would never use nuclear weapons unless there was a nuclear threat or provocation. Furthermore, there will be no transfer of nuclear weapons or related technology. All intercontinental long-range missile tests would be suspended from April 21, 2018, as the implementation of the nuclear weapons program had been successfully completed.

Administrative division

Südkorea China Russland Rason Hamgyŏng-pukto Ryanggang-do Chagang-do Hamgyŏng-namdo P’yŏngan-pukto Pjöngjang P’yŏngan-namdo Hwanghae-pukto Hwanghae-namdo Kangwŏn-doNorth Korea, administrative divisions - de - colored.svg
About this picture

North Korea is divided into nine provinces and three special administrative regions. Pyongyang is administered directly by the government.


Special administrative regions

Special cities

  • Namp'o ( Namp'o T'ŭkpyŏlsi ; 남포 특별시 ;南浦 特別 市)
  • Rasŏn ( Rasŏn T'ŭkpyŏlsi ; 라선 특별시 ;羅 先 特別 市)

Cities under direct government management

  • Pyongyang ( P'yŏng-yang Chik'alshi ; 평양 직할시 ;平壤 直轄市)
  • earlier:
    • Rasŏn (Rajin-Sŏnbong) ( Rasŏn Chik'alshi ; 라 선 (라진 - 선봉) 직할시 ;羅 先 (羅 津 - 先鋒) 直轄市)



The deserted road of the Heroic Youth from Namp'o to Pyongyang
North Korea's infrastructure
Terminal of Sunan Airport near Pyongyang

The transport network is primarily geared towards the needs of the military, for example in border regions there are huge concrete pillars next to the road that can be tipped onto the road as an anti-tank barrier if necessary.

The main mode of transport is the North Korean railway . However, it often suffers from the country's lack of energy, so it happens that electric locomotives have to stop on the open track because the overhead line does not carry enough voltage. There are regular long-distance train connections from Pyongyang to Beijing (via Shenyang ) and Moscow (via Shenyang or Ussuriysk ). In May 2007, railroad trains crossed the inner-Korean border for the first time in decades . However, the North rejects regular passenger train traffic between North and South Korea. Russia supports the connection of the so-called Trans- Korean Railroad , which crosses the Korean Peninsula in a north-south direction, to the Trans-Siberian Railway . The resulting connection between South Korea and Europe would represent an alternative to the time-consuming shipping route in freight transport (also with regard to the Japanese market).

Between Wŏnsan and Niigata in Japan there was an irregular ferry connection until July 2006 , the use of which was reserved for citizens of North Korea and Japan. The ship Mangyongbyong-92 , built in 1992 with funds from the Ch'ongryŏn , operated on the line . After the missile tests, which Japan saw as an unfriendly act, Japan permanently banned the ferry from entering its ports.

Motorways lead from Pyongyang to the northeast, east (Wŏnsan), south (Kaesŏng) and west (Namp'o), but private motorized traffic is of no importance in North Korea.

The Sunan International Airport is located near Pyongyang . The state airline Air Koryo only has regular international passenger flights to Beijing, Shanghai and Shenyang in China, Bangkok in Thailand and Vladivostok . Domestic flights are z. B. to Ch'ŏngjin Airport possible.

On April 22, 2004, a major train accident occurred near Ryongchon . According to the Chinese news agency Xinhua, at least 161 people were killed and around 1,300 injured in the disaster in the city on the border with the People's Republic of China .

There are two tram networks; the Pyongyang tram and the Ch'ŏngjin tram . The largest bus network is the Pyongyang trolleybus .


In a report published in July 2010, Amnesty International highlighted the precarious situation in the North Korean healthcare system. The country's hospitals are inadequately equipped and the hygienic conditions are catastrophic. Medicines are hardly available and have to be bought in the markets; due to the lack of anesthetics , operations and amputations sometimes have to be performed without anesthesia . Although medical care is officially free, doctors charge something in return for their treatments. A 2015 study by South Korean scientists of the health records of North Korean defectors in a hospital in Cheonan between 2006 and 2014 found that they suffered more often from chronic hepatitis B and C, as well as tuberculosis and parasitic infections , compared to South Koreans . The reason for the high prevalence of parasitic infections can be cited that in agriculture, due to a lack of chemical fertilizers , untreated human feces are used (see also feces # Medical significance ). However, life expectancy in North Korea is above average compared to other countries with similar per capita incomes . Due to the great health gap, enormous health problems could become established in the event of a reunification.


The Pukchang coal-fired power station is the largest electricity supplier in North Korea , followed by the Pyongyang power station . The country also has several hydropower plants . Construction of the Kŭmho nuclear power plant north of Sinpo stopped in 2003. The power generation in North Korea is prone to failure .

Time zone

In August 2015 (on the 70th anniversary of independence from Japan) North Korea switched to a new time zone of UTC + 8.5. So far, Japan, South and North Korea had the same time UTC + 9, which was introduced during the Japanese colonial rule in Korea (1910-1945).

However, this change was reversed on May 5, 2018, so that North and South Korea are again in the same time zone.

Internet connection

The project 38 North of the US-Korea Institute of the Johns Hopkins University reported that as of October 1, 2017, another internet connection was set up via the Russian telecommunications group TransTeleCom. Previously, North Korea was only connected to the Internet through a single node through the state-owned Chinese telecommunications company China Unicom. North Korea has been blamed for various cyberattacks, “including those on Sony Pictures, banks and the WannaCry attack. The government in Pyongyang rejects the allegations ”.


Planned economy

A nighttime satellite image from NASA from 2000 showed North Korea, except for the capital Pyongyang, in dark. - In the center of the picture the Korea peninsula, to the right (east) of it Japan (S-shaped) particularly bright.

North Korea has a tightly centralized planned economy that has been geared towards self - sufficiency for decades within the framework of the prevailing Chuch'e ideology . All main industries as well as agriculture are in state hands. The main focus of the Pyongyang leadership is still on the militarily important heavy industry , in favor of which the production of consumer goods and agriculture in particular are severely neglected. The United Nations estimates that the gross domestic product per capita in North Korea is only one fortieth of the gross domestic product per capita in South Korea at USD 600 . The CIA estimates the 2013 unemployment rate at 25.6%. In 2008, 37% of all workers worked in agriculture and 63% in the service sector or in industry. The total number of employees is estimated at 14 million for 2017.

According to the Economic Freedom Index , the country has the world's most unfree economy in 2017.

The loss of the former trading partners in the Eastern Bloc has led to an extensive collapse of the country's economy. Due to outstanding loans amounting to approximately 12.9 billion US dollars, guarantees from North Korean banks are not recognized internationally, which makes foreign trade very difficult. North Korea depends on food deliveries from foreign aid organizations to feed its population. Food and oil support from the United Nations, however, was reduced after North Korea refused to end its nuclear weapons program. In addition, a black market, called Jangmadang in the media, has formed since the 1990s as a result of the crisis to guarantee supplies. These informal markets are largely tolerated and are hardly subject to any regulation. While the markets initially developed out of necessity, North Korea later tried to officially integrate the markets into the economic system and levy taxes. Through the Jangmadangs, various products and cultural goods come to North Korea via China and are freely traded.

From 2001 onwards, the government made attempts to reform the economy in a market-based direction due to the tense supply situation . These reforms (July 1st measures) have been largely reversed since 2005 at the latest. By the 100th birthday of Kim Il-sung in 2012, the government wanted to abolish the consumer markets, which had developed as survival mechanisms parallel to the planned economy during the famine years. It is already strictly forbidden to sell grain in such markets, and recently the government has also wanted to restrict free trade in industrial goods. However, the government has expressed considerable difficulties in enforcing the regulations issued for this purpose. In the course of the market reforms of 2001, the government tried to lure foreign investors into the country through joint ventures ( see also Pyeonghwa Motors ) and the establishment of special economic zones ( see also Sinŭiju administrative region ). Through these measures, combined with extremely low labor costs , the government succeeded in greatly increasing foreign trade, particularly with the People's Republic of China and South Korea.

There are reports that the SEK animation studio in Pyongyang is taking on commissioned work for western studios; it is said to have worked on the films The Lion King and Pocahontas , among others . Other animation studios regularly take on commissioned work for French and Italian studios.

The Vinalon factory on February 8th and the Vinalon factory in Sunch'ŏn are the only producers of Vinalon man-made fibers worldwide .


A shop of the Japanese grocery chain FamilyMart in the former joint industrial region of Kaesŏng

The state tourism organization (Ryohaengsa) is responsible for tourism to North Korea , through which every trip must be booked. Each tour group and also single travelers are permanently accompanied by two tour guides who usually speak the native language of the respective tourist. The travel program is determined in advance, spontaneous changes are hardly possible. If possible, any contact with the local population is prevented. Most tourists come from China and Japan, while tourists from western countries are still relatively rare in North Korea - in 2011 about 5000 to 6000 tourists from western Europe visited the country. North Korea can be visited all year round. For citizens of South Korea, however, there is only the possibility of obtaining a visa for North Korea to visit the Arirang Festival .

Since 1982, Pyongyang has had its own department store, department store No. 1, especially for tourists .

The import of cell phones was banned until January 7, 2013. Corresponding devices had to be handed in on entry and were only returned to the owner on departure.

In Kumgangsan -Gebirge there are some tourist facilities that the Hyundai were built Corporation and operated. Travel there is only possible in organized groups from South Korea ( see also Kŭmgang-san tourist region ). In 2007, South Korean bus tour groups were able to visit the city of Kaesŏng for the first time . In Masik in the north of the Kangwŏn-do province , a winter sports area was opened in early 2014 , which ostensibly is to be made accessible to tourists.

Nationally and internationally there are several travel companies that offer trips to North Korea.

Since August 2017, citizens of the United States are no longer allowed to enter North Korea following a decision by US President Donald Trump . This does not apply to US citizens who also have a foreign passport valid for North Korea .

State budget

North Korea keeps information on the state budget secret, so there are no reliable figures. The cost of maintaining the army of 1.2 million soldiers is extremely negative for economic development. According to official North Korean figures, the state budget for the military for 2014 was 15.9 percent. In March 2016 it was reported that, according to defectors, the North Korean diplomats were not paid enough, many did not have health insurance and that it was necessary to earn additional income, including through arms trafficking, and that embassy rooms were also rented out. In September 2012, the Russian Ministry of Finance announced that it would cancel North Korea's 90 percent of its Soviet Union debts, which totaled US $ 11 billion, and that the remainder would be invested in education, health and energy projects as part of debt restructuring would.


The Central Bank of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea issues the North Korean won .


Mobile telephony has been possible since 2002 with certain restrictions. There were two cellular networks: Koryolink and SunNet . SunNet was closed again in 2010 in favor of Koryolinks. An estimated 14,000 North Koreans or 0.1% of the population used the Internet in 2016. Only a few thousand people, mostly senior government employees, have free access to the worldwide Internet. “The rest of the population has access to a heavily censored, national intranet via a few PCs in Internet cafés and universities. There are just 1024 IP addresses for the entire population. ”All foreign websites are blocked there.


Performers at the Arirang Festival in May 1st Stadium

North Korean culture is shaped by the glorification of the late father of the current dictator Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il and his father Kim Il-sung. Military parades and mass gymnastics in which thousands of people take part are typical. Here the unshakable loyalty and willingness to make sacrifices for the government are to be evoked. In this context, mention should be made of the Arirang Festival, which is held annually to celebrate Kim Il-sung's birthday (April 15). It lasts two months and begins with an opening ceremony at the R imngnado May Day Stadium in Pyongyang.

In July 1989 the 13th World Festival of Youth and Students was held in Pyongyang, in which around 10,000 young people from 177 countries and several international organizations took part.

After Kim Il-sung's death, the Chuch'e calendar, named after the state ideology, was officially introduced in North Korea . It differs from the Gregorian calendar by counting the year, which begins with the year of birth of the founder of the state, 1912. The year 2021 is therefore the year Chuch'e 110, whereby as a rule both years are given, for example "Juche 109 (2020)"

National holidays and memorial days

date Surname
January 1st New Year
January 25th New Year according to the lunar calendar (2020)
February 16 Day of the Shining Star , Birthday of the Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong-il (Chuch'e 31/1942)
20. February Machine Workers Day
5. March Farmers Day
8th of March International Women's Day
March 22 Fishermen's Day
April 5th Day of health
April 6th Reforestation day
April 8th Communication day
April 15th Day of the Sun , Birthday of the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung (Chuch'e 1/1912)
April 25 Founding Day of the Korean People's Revolutionary Army (Chuch'e 21/1932)
1st of May May Day (International Labor Day (1890))
May 11th Rail Day
May 15 Geological Research Day
May 21 Construction workers day
June 1st International Children's Day
6th of June Day of the Establishment of the Korean Children's Union
June 7th National Industry Day
July 1 Miners' Day
7th of July Coal Miners Day
8th of July Anniversary of the death of the Great Leader Comrade Kim Il-sung (Chuch'e 83/1994)
July 27th Victory Day in the Patriotic War of Liberation (Chuch'e 42/1953)
August 10 Day of the forest workers
15th of August National Liberation Day ( Chogukhaebang'ŭi nal ) (Chuch'e 34/1945)
20th of August Air Force Day
August 28th Navy Day
August 28th Youth day
5th September Day of Education
September 9th National Day (Founding Day of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea) (Chuch'e 37/1948)
September 15th Day of trading
2nd Sunday in October Sports day
9th October Metalworkers Day
October 10th Day of the Establishment of the Labor Party of Korea
October 14th Day of the Broadcasting Workers
15th October Textile Industry Day
1st of November Press day
November 16 Land and water transport day
6th of December Chemical Industry Day
December 17th Anniversary of the death of the Great Leader Comrade Kim Jong-il (Chuch'e 100/2011)
December 27th Day of Proclamation of the Socialist Constitution of the DPRK (Chuch'e 61/1972)


There are said to be 15,000 libraries in North Korea. Every municipality is obliged to set up libraries in addition to basic day-to-day services .

However, there is no library training. The assumption of a library management, at least one university library, requires a university degree. An initiative by the Goethe-Institut has been trying since May 2005 to help the country establish a qualified training center for librarians.

The National Library in Pyongyang is called the Great People's Study Hall and is a mixture of library and community college. It should accommodate 30 million media units. Numerous specialized reading rooms as well as lecture halls, language laboratories and facilities for the production of distance learning materials can be visited.


The National Symphony Orchestra of the KDVR was formed from the orchestra of the People's Army that existed from 1950 to 1953 and today has around 120 members. It is directed by Kim Byong-hwa (* 1936). While many of the musicians were initially trained in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe , the younger generation mainly studied at the Pyongyang College of Music. The few recordings available outside of North Korea consistently show a level corresponding to the standards of top international orchestras. The repertoire of the North Korean orchestras consists of compositions by well-known European composers of the classical and romantic epoch, including Shostakovich and Prokofiev, and especially contemporary North Korean music, which is consistently oriented towards socialist realism and strongly influenced by Korean folk music. The integration of folk instruments into the classical sound body is popular. The National Symphony Orchestra is given as the author of many North Korean compositions. Almost all compositions have programmatic titles and often also relate to current political or social events. One of the few composers known by name is Choe Song-hwan . The German-Korean composer Yun Isang (Isang Yun) (1917–1995), after whom numerous cultural institutions are named, enjoys a special reputation .

Another well-known orchestra is the Yun I Sang Philharmonic Orchestra , which is conducted by Kim Il-jin (* 1956).


Little is known about North Korean fiction . In contrast to other states of the socialist system, socialist realism in North Korea was unable to gain a lasting foothold in literature. On the one hand, this has to do with the fact that the dominant personality cult of fiction leaves little room anyway - the North Korean book market is dominated by political propaganda literature like no other - and, on the other hand, there was no such marked break with the culture of the pre-revolutionary era as in other socialist ones Countries. The existing fiction is thus more shaped by Korean national culture and personality cult than by (nationality-free) socialist realism.

A prominent role in the North Korean literature of the 1940s and 1950s played the writer Han Sorya (1900-1976), who as a protégé was Kim Il-sung's most important North Korean author of that time and the chairman of the North Korean Writers and Artists Association until 1962 was deposed as a result of intrigue and banished from the capital. In 1969, however, he was rehabilitated and even appeared again on the list of members of the Central Committee.

Bandi is a (alleged) North Korean author whose collection of stories entitled Gobal was smuggled out of North Korea by North Korean refugees. The volume was published in German under the title Denunciation .

Visual arts

North Korean contemporary art is characterized by the use of traditional working methods such as ink painting and woodcut and is still largely ignored internationally.

A large painting by the waves painter Kim Song Gun received international attention because it was shown in the background of a photo of Bill Clinton's visit to Kim Jong-il in 2009.

Embroidered pictures, which at first glance can hardly be distinguished from photos, are a specialty of the craft.


Since foreign cinema films can hardly be seen in North Korea (at most a few selected Chinese and, in the past, Soviet productions), the domestic film industry is of particular importance. This is reinforced by the fact that the former head of state Kim Jong-il was considered an outspoken fan of the cinema. Like the entire spectrum of art in North Korea, the film also often deals with propaganda topics, i.e. the glorification of the two Kims, the building of Chuch'e socialism and the fight against the “American imperialists”. A film that has achieved a certain degree of popularity beyond the borders of the country - at least among film buffs - is The Flower Girl from 1972, which was awarded a special prize at the 18th Karlovy Vary International Film Festival .

The Pyongyang International Film Festival (formerly the Pyongyang International Film Festival of Non-Aligned and other developing countries ) has been held every two years since 1987 . At the 9th Festival in September 2004, the film Kick it like Beckham was shown , among other things . There were around 2,000 North Koreans in the cinema for both screenings. The film, like the other international films, attracted a large number of local visitors. Of the 73 films shown in 2006, nine were Chinese, seven German, six Egyptian, five Russian, four British and four North Korean productions. Dennis Gansel's film Napola - Elite for the Führer received the award for best film . The opening film Das Wunder von Bern by Sönke Wortmann and Marc Rothemund's Sophie Scholl - The Last Days also received special prizes . The last film festival took place in September 2016.


North Korean architecture is essentially determined by two factors. As in most socialist or formerly socialist countries, one can also find simple high-rise buildings ( prefabricated buildings ) in North Korea, which were characterized by the pragmatic architectural style that began in the 1960s . This particularly applies to residential construction. Representative buildings, on the other hand, are characterized by their particular size and splendor. In contrast to other socialist countries, these buildings in North Korea are not always influenced by modernism (such as the Koryŏ Hotel and the incomplete Ryugyŏng Hotel in Pyongyang), but in a special way by traditional Korean construction ( pagoda style ). Examples include the Great People's Study Hall in Pyongyang and the buildings of the so-called Friendship Exhibition in the Myohyang Mountains .


The largest sporting event in the country is the Arirang Festival , an event characterized by mass dances and mass gymnastics, which is held in the Rŭngnado May Day Stadium .

North Korea has been participating in the Summer Olympics since 1972 - with the exception of the 1984 and 1988 Games . In total, the country's athletes won 41 medals, including 10 gold, 12 silver and 19 bronze medals. The most successful sport is wrestling with nine awards for North Korea.

In football , the country has been some success. The men's national team qualified for the 1966 World Cup and surprisingly reached the quarter-finals. After a 44-year break, the team managed to participate in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa , but after three defeats in the group stage against Brazil (1: 2), Portugal (0: 7) and Ivory Coast (0: 3) before the Round of 16 out. The women's national team is an established player in Asian women's football; the country's selection has already won the Asian Cup three times . In addition, they participated in the World Cup in 1999, 2003, 2007 and 2011. With the youth teams, the North Koreans became world champions in 2006 (U-19) and 2008 (U-17).

During the 2011 women's soccer World Cup, a substance from group S1B ( steroid hormones ) was detected in urine samples from North Korean players Song Jong-sun and Jong Pok-sim . The North Korean association refrained from analyzing the B sample, which experts commonly regard as an admission of guilt. Then the entire North Korean World Cup squad was asked to do a doping control. The FIFA announced then that three other unnamed players of the team North Korea of doping had been transferred. 14 different steroids were found in all female athletes, four of which were on the doping list. The North Korean players Jong Pok-sim, Hong Myong-hui , Ho Un-byol and Ri Un-hyang who were convicted of doping during the World Cup were banned by FIFA on August 25, 2011 for 18 months and Song Jong-sun for 14 months. The North Korean Football Association doctor Nam Jong-ae has been banned for six years. In addition, the North Korean Football Association was fined $ 400,000. The national team was excluded from the 2015 World Cup in Canada .

In 1995, a wrestling event was held for the first time in Korea with Collision . Since 2011, an annual golf tournament called the DPRK Amateur Golf Open has been held at the Pyongyang Golf Complex . The Munsu Water Park opened in November, 2013.

The Dutch soccer coach Guus Hiddink has recently started setting up futsal structures.

A gondola lift from the manufacturer Doppelmayr that was built in Tyrol in the 1990s and dismantled in 2014 was set up in the North Korean Masik-Ryong ski area - traded as a second-hand system via China - even though Doppelmayr had refused requests due to trade sanctions.

See also

Portal: Korea  - Overview of Wikipedia content on the topic of Korea


History and politics

in order of appearance

  • Ernst Kux / Joseph C. Kun: The satellites of Beijing. North Vietnam North Korea . W. Kohlhammer GmbH., Stuttgart 1964.
  • Modern History of Korea , Foreign Languages ​​Publishing House, Pyongyang, 1979 - without ISBN.
  • Xing-Hu Kuo : North Korea. A Far Eastern gulag . Seewald, Stuttgart 1983, ISBN 3-512-00681-7 .
  • Peter Schaller: North Korea. A country under the spell of the Kims . Tykve, Böblingen 1994, ISBN 3-925434-82-8 .
  • Bruce Cumings: Korea's Place in the Sun. A Modern History . WW Norton & Company , 1998, ISBN 0-393-31681-5 (English).
  • Pierre Rigoulot: Crime, Terror and Mystery in North Korea . In: Stéphane Courtois , Nicolas Werth u. a. (Ed.): The Black Book of Communism . Oppression, crime and terror . Munich / Zurich 1998, ISBN 3-492-04053-5 , p. 609-629 (original French: 1997).
  • Jens Tevres, Vimal Vichare: Hands off North Korea! Ahriman-Verlag, 2003, ISBN 3-89484-233-4 (Heretic letters 115).
  • Pierre Rigoulot: North Korea: Stone Age Communism and Nuclear Weapons, Anatomy of a Crisis . Kiepenheuer & Witsch, Cologne 2003, ISBN 3-462-03347-6 .
  • Rüdiger Frank: North Korea: Between stagnation and pressure to change . In: Claudia Derichs, Thomas Heberer (ed.): Introduction to the political systems of East Asia: PR China, Hong Kong, Japan, North Korea, South Korea, Taiwan . Leske and Budrich, Opladen 2003, ISBN 3-8100-3534-3 , p. 271-325 .
  • Hyondok Choe, Du-Yul Song, Rainer Werning (eds.): Where is North Korea heading? Social conditions - development tendencies - perspectives . PapyRossa Verlag, Cologne 2004, ISBN 3-89438-309-7 .
  • Hanns W. Maull, Ivo M. Maull: In focus: Korea . CH Beck Verlag, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-50716-6 .
  • John Feffer: North Korea and the USA, American interests on the Korean peninsula . Diederichs, Munich 2004, ISBN 3-7205-2484-1 .
  • Martin Fritz: Scene North Korea. The powder keg in the Far East . Herder, Freiburg / Basel / Vienna 2004, ISBN 3-451-05464-7 .
  • Michael Breen: Kim Jong-il: North Korea's "Beloved Leader" . European Publishing House, 2004, ISBN 3-434-50585-7 .
  • Jasper Becker : Rogue Regime: Kim Jong Il and the Looming Threat of North Korea . Oxford University Press , 2004.
  • Andrei Lankow : KNDR wtschera i sewodnja. Neformalnaja istorija Severnoj Korei . Wostok-Sapad, Moscow 2005, ISBN 5-478-00060-4 ( Russian ; overview of the history of North Korea).
  • Paul French: North Korea. The Paranoid Peninsula. A Modern History . Zed Books, London / New York 2005, ISBN 1-84277-473-5 (English).
  • Alexander Shebin: Evolyuzija politicheskoi sistemy KNDR v uslowijach globalnych peremen . Russkaja Panorama, Moscow 2006, ISBN 5-93165-153-5 (Russian, "Evolution of the DPRK's political system under the conditions of global change"). Analysis of the emergence and functioning of the regime under Kim Jong-il.
  • Barbara Demick : In the land of whispers. Stories from everyday life in North Korea. Droemer, Munich 2013, ISBN 978-3-426-30113-5 (original title Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea ; originally published in German under the title Die Kinogänger von Chongjin , Munich 2010)
  • Rüdiger Frank : North Korea. Inside views of a total state . DVA, Munich 2014, ISBN 978-3-421-04641-3 .

Economy and reform processes

  • Ralph Wrobel: North Korea after the Nuclear Crisis: The Future of the Economic Reforms , in: Post Communist Economies , Vol. 12, No. 4 (2007), pp. 483-504.
  • Ralph Wrobel: The Double Challenge of Transformation and Integration: German Experiences and Consequences for Korea , in: Dean Frear (Ed.): The Economy and Economics after Crisis , Berlin 2011, pp. 211-234 (together with Jüri Sepp).
  • Rainer Dormels: North Korea's Cities: Industrial facilities, internal structures and typification , Jimoondang, 2014. ISBN 978-89-6297-167-5 .

Travel and experience reports from foreigners

  • Luise Rinser : North Korean travel diary . Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 1981, ISBN 3-596-24233-9 .
  • Alfred Pfabigan : Sleepless in Pyongyang. About the failed attempt to turn a skeptical European into a member of the Great Red Family . Verlag Christian Brandstätter, Vienna 1986, ISBN 3-85447-204-8 (the Viennese philosophy professor Alfred Pfabigan visited Pyongyang in 1982 at the invitation of the North Korean authorities. The result is an analysis of North Korean everyday life with personality cult and ubiquitous state propaganda from the perspective of a foreigner).
  • Uwe Gerig: Red God in "Paradise". Travel notes and pictures from North Korea . Anita Tykve Verlag, Böblingen 1987, ISBN 3-925434-14-3 (travel report of a GDR citizen).
  • Hans Maretzki: Kimism in North Korea: an analysis of the last GDR ambassador in Pyongyang . Anita Tykve Verlag, Böblingen 1991, ISBN 3-925434-49-6 .
  • Oliver Mohr: Behind the 38th parallel. With 'Cap Anamur' in North Korea . Lamuv Verlag GmbH, Göttingen 2000, ISBN 3-88977-586-1 .
  • Nanchu / Xing Hang: In North Korea. An American Travels through an Imprisoned Nation . McFarland & Company, Jefferson (North Carolina) / London 2003, ISBN 0-7864-1691-2 (English; travel report by an American).
  • Christoph Moeskes (Ed.): North Korea. Insights into an enigmatic country . Ch. Links, Berlin 2004, ISBN 3-86153-318-9 (mainly reports from foreigners who have traveled to the country for various reasons - economic, humanitarian, etc.).
  • Norbert Vollertsen : Inside North Korea. Diary of a mad place . Encounter Books, 2004, ISBN 1-893554-87-2 (English).
  • Michael Harrold: Comrades and Strangers. Behind the Closed Doors of North Korea . Wiley & Sons, Chichester 2004, ISBN 0-470-86976-3 (experience report from a Briton who worked for several years as a lecturer at the publishing house for foreign-language literature in Pyongyang).
  • Guy Delisle : Pyongyang . Drawn & Quarterly, 2005, ISBN 1-896597-89-0 (French comic about a three-month stay at SEK Studios, originally published by L'Association).
  • Tony Wheeler : Badlands: A Tourist on the axis of evil . Lonely Planet Publications, 2007, ISBN 978-1-74179-186-0 (reports on countries that belong to the axis of evil, including North Korea).
  • Malte Herwig , The Great Dictator: Kims Kino , Zeit-Magazin, December 23, 2008 Psychological portrait of Kim Jong Ils as an artist-dictator (PDF; 586 kB)
  • Felix Abt : North Korea - doing business in a demanding environment . In: “Insight Asia Pacific” magazine. OAV, Hamburg September 2009 online version (PDF; 1.1 MB)

Reports from North Koreans

  • Kim Hyun-hee : The tears of my soul . Brunnen Verlag, Basel / Gießen 1999, ISBN 3-7655-3625-3 (report from a North Korean agent who carried out an attack on a South Korean passenger plane ( Korean Airlines flight 858 ) in 1987 ).
  • Kang Chol-hwan (with Pierre Rigoulot): Les Aquariums de Pyongyang. Dix Ans au Goulag North Coréen. Paris: Robert Laffont 2000, ISBN 2-221-09101-9 . (French; English translation: Aquariums of Pyongyang. Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag. New York: Basic Books 2001. ISBN 0-465-01101-2 ; report by a North Korean who spent ten years with his family in the Yodok penal camp as a child An excerpt translated into German can be found in: Christoph Moeskes (Hrsg.): North Korea. Insights into an enigmatic country. Berlin: Ch. Links, 2004.)
  • Juliette Morillot / Dorian Malovic: Évadés de Corée du Nord. Témoignages . Belfond Presses de la Cité, Paris 2004, ISBN 2-7144-4057-6 (French; reports on experiences of North Korean refugees).
  • Lee Soon-ok : Let me be your voice! Six years in North Korea's labor camps . Brunnen Verlag, Giessen 2005, ISBN 3-7655-3848-5 (eyewitness report of a camp inmate).
  • Hyok Kang: You are here in paradise . My childhood in North Korea . Goldmann, 2005, ISBN 3-442-15346-8 ( Field report by Hyok Kang, who was born in North Korea in 1986 and who fled to China with his parents in 1998 and came to South Korea in 2002, describes the reality of life in his homeland).
  • Ingrid Steiner-Gashi and Dardan Gashi: In the service of the dictator: the life and flight of a North Korean agent . Ueberreuter, 2010, ISBN 978-3-8000-7450-1 (The 74-year-old Emil - the code name of Kim Jong Ryul - organized consumer goods and weapons in Germany and for the North Korean dictators Kim-Il Sung and Kim Jong-Il Austria. In 1994 he fled under spectacular circumstances and has lived illegally in Austria ever since.).
  • Blaine Harden : Escape from Camp 14 . Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt , 2012, ISBN 978-3-421-04570-6 (The story of Shin Dong-hyuk , who was born in a North Korean labor camp and was one of the few prisoners who escaped.).
  • Yeonmi Park: My escape from North Korea. Munich 2016, ISBN 978-3-442-15913-0 .

Illustrated books

  • Christian Kracht , Eva Munz , Lukas Nikol : The total memory. Kim Jong Ils North Korea . Rogner & Bernhard, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-8077-1020-5 .
  • Philippe Chancel: North Korea. Photographs from an isolated country . Schwarzkopf & Schwarzkopf, Berlin 2006, ISBN 3-89602-739-5 .
  • Peter Noever (Ed.): Flowers for Kim Il Sung - Art and Architecture in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea , Exhibition Catalog: Museum of Applied Arts (MAK), Vienna / Verlag für moderne Kunst, Nuremberg, 2010 ISBN 978-3-86984-107 -6 .
  • Philipp Meuser: Architectural Guide Pyongyang. 2 volumes: Travel Guide North Korea. 1st edition May 2011, Dom Publishers, ISBN 978-3-86922-126-7 .
  • Tomas van Houtryve: Closed societies. A photographic journey through communist countries. Benteli, Bern 2012, ISBN 978-3-7165-1714-7 (therein: North Korea Workers' Paradise, pp. 61-103).
  • Luca Faccio: "Common Ground". Exhibition catalog: Common Ground Künstlerhaus Wien.Wien/Verlag für moderne Kunst, Nuremberg, 2014, ISBN 978-3-86984-474-9 .
  • Luca Faccio: "Image transfers, Pyongyang-Vienna". Exhibition catalog: Image transfers, Pyongyang-Wien Kunsthalle Wien. Vienna / Austrian Institute for Photography and Media Art / EIKON, 2007, ISBN 978-3-902250-30-8 .
  • Julia Leeb: North Korea - Anonymous Country . teNeues Verlag, Kempen 2014, ISBN 978-3-8327-9843-7 .
  • Xiomara Bender: North Korea. The Power Of Dreams. Kehrer, Heidelberg and Berlin 2016, ISBN 978-3-86828-735-6 .
  • The North Koreans. Glimpses of daily life in the DPRK. With photographs by Martin Tutsch, Eric Lafforgue, Raymond K. Cunningham Jr. u. a., Primavera Pers, Leiden 2016, ISBN 978-90-5997-230-8 .
  • Werner Kohn : North Korea , Erich-Weiß-Verlag , Bamberg 2018, ISBN 978-3-940821-59-1 .

Web links

Wiktionary: North Korea  - explanations of meanings, word origins, synonyms, translations
Commons : North Korea  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
 Wikinews: North Korea  - on the news
Wikivoyage: North Korea  Travel Guide

Individual evidence

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  5. Korea Focus - Estimation of North Korea's Nominal Per Capita GDP in 2012 , Figures 7 and 8
  6. Human Development Report 2013 Summary English , p. 19.
  7. Kim Jong-il Son Cleared as Top Military Commander. In: New York Times , December 24, 2011 (1.1 million troops on active duty in a country with a population of 23 million.).
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  26. That means, for example, the number of immigrants in South Korea in 2010 cannot be equated with the number of refugees from North Korea in 2010.
  27. Daily NK : More Monitoring Cameras along the Border , August 8, 2008.
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Coordinates: 40 °  N , 127 °  E