The Human Truth Foundation

Korea, North (Democratic People's Republic of Korea)

By Vexen Crabtree 2013

North Korea
Democratic People's Republic of Korea
StatusIndependent State
Social and Moral Index168th best
CapitalPyongyang
Land Area 120 410km21
LocationAsia
Population25.5m2
Life Expectancy70.52yrs (2017)3
GNI
ISO3166-1 CodesKP, PRK, 4084
Internet Domain.kp5
CurrencyWon (KPW)6
Telephone+8507

1. Overview

An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula. Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Soviet-sponsored Communist control. After failing in the Korean War (1950-53) to conquer the US-backed Republic of Korea (ROK) in the southern portion by force, North Korea (DPRK), under its founder President KIM Il Sung, adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic "self-reliance" as a check against outside influence. The DPRK demonized the US as the ultimate threat to its social system through state-funded propaganda, and molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang's control. KIM Il Sung's son, KIM Jong Il, was officially designated as his father's successor in 1980, assuming a growing political and managerial role until the elder KIM's death in 1994. KIM Jong Un was publicly unveiled as his father's successor in September 2010. Following KIM Jong Il's death in December 2011, the regime began to take actions to transfer power to KIM Jong Un and KIM has now assumed many his father's former titles and duties. After decades of economic mismanagement and resource misallocation, the DPRK since the mid-1990s has relied heavily on international aid to feed its population. The DPRK began to ease restrictions to allow semi-private markets, starting in 2002, but then sought to roll back the scale of economic reforms in 2005 and 2009. North Korea's history of regional military provocations; proliferation of military-related items; long-range missile development; WMD programs including tests of nuclear devices in 2006, 2009, and 2013; and massive conventional armed forces are of major concern to the international community.

CIA's The World Factbook (2013)8

Book CoverMost people form their opinions of North Korea from news reports and James Bond movies, but there´s more to the Democratic People´s Republic than military parades and stand-offs with the UN. No country in the world provokes a similar reaction to North Korea. Now on its third hereditary ruler, this nominally communist state and by-product of the Cold War has defied all expectation and survived a quarter of a century since perestroika dismantled the rest of the once-vast Soviet empire.

Most people don´t even know that it´s possible to travel here, and indeed the compromises required to do so are significant. You´ll be accompanied by two government minders at all times and only hear a one-sided account of history. Those who can´t accept this might be better off staying away - but those who can will have a fascinating trip into another, unsettling world.

With your official minders, you can roam mountain resorts and ancient capitals, though the main attractions remain the bombastic iconography of the North Korean regime and the surreal existence of ordinary people in this troubled, autocratic state.

"The World" by Lonely Planet (2014)9

2. North Korea National and Social Development

#human_development

Social & Moral
Development Index
10,11
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank10,11
1Taiwan30.2
2Denmark30.5
3Norway30.9
...
165Liberia115.9
166Kiribati116.2
167Zimbabwe117.1
168N. Korea117.1
169Niger117.1
170Marshall Islands117.1
171Syria117.2
172Swaziland117.6
World Avg86.4
q=195.

The Social and Moral Development Index concentrates on moral issues and human rights, violence, public health, equality, tolerance, freedom and effectiveness in climate change mitigation and environmentalism, and on some technological issues. A country scores higher for achieving well in those areas, and for sustaining that achievement in the long term. Those countries towards the top of this index can truly said to be setting good examples and leading humankind onwards into a bright, humane, and free future. See: Which are the Best Countries in the World? The Social and Moral Development Index.

3. North Korea's Demographics

#birth_control #demographics #health #immigration #life_expectancy #longevity #migration #overpopulation #population

Population:

North Korea's population is predicted to rise to 26.18 million by 2030. This rise is despite a low fertility rate, meaning, that this country is helping to alleviate problems with growing population in neighbouring countries by accepting immigrants, very likely as a requirement of maintaining an active workforce. This country has a fertility rate of 2.00. The fertility rate is, in simple terms, the average amount of children that each woman has. The higher the figure, the quicker the population is growing, although, to calculate the rate you also need to take into account morbidity, i.e., the rate at which people die. If people live healthy and long lives and morbidity is low, then, 2.0 approximates to the replacement rate, which would keep the population stable. If all countries had such a fertility rate, population growth would end. The actual replacement rate in most developed countries is around 2.1.

Population (2018)2
Pos.
Population2
1China1.4b
2India1.4b
3USA327.1m
...
49Yemen28.5m
50Nepal28.1m
51Madagascar26.3m
52N. Korea25.5m
53Cameroon25.2m
54Ivory Coast25.1m
55Australia24.9m
56Niger22.4m
World Avg39.0m
q=195.
Life Expectancy (2015)12
Pos.Higher is better
Years12
1Hong Kong84.16
2Japan83.68
3Italy83.34
...
111Ukraine71.13
112Azerbaijan70.90
113Kyrgyzstan70.79
114N. Korea70.52
115Trinidad & Tobago70.52
116Russia70.26
117Fiji70.15
118Belize70.08
World Avg71.27
q=190.
Fertility Rate (2013)13
Pos.2.0 is best13
1N. Korea2.00
2Brunei1.99
3St Vincent & Grenadines2.01
4France1.99
5Turkey2.04
6Australia1.96
7Uruguay2.05
8Norway1.95
9Myanmar (Burma)1.95
10Indonesia2.07
11Sweden1.93
12Tunisia1.93
World Avg2.81
q=180.
Old-Age Dependency Ratio (2016)14
Pos.Lower is better
Per 10014
1Uganda04.3
2Mali04.5
3Chad04.7
...
107Brunei16.2
108El Salvador17.3
109Panama17.7
110N. Korea17.8
111Turkey18.0
112Vietnam18.3
113Tunisia18.6
114Azerbaijan18.7
World Avg18.3
q=185.

Migration:

Immigrants (2017)15
Pos.
%15
1UAE88.4%
2Kuwait75.5%
3Qatar65.2%
...
185Colombia0.3%
186Morocco0.3%
187Philippines0.2%
188N. Korea0.2%
189Sri Lanka0.2%
190Myanmar (Burma)0.1%
191Madagascar0.1%
192Indonesia0.1%
World Avg9.4%
q=195.
Emigrants (2010)16
Pos.
%16
1Dominica104.8%
2Palestine68.4%
3Samoa67.3%
...
166Cameroon1.4%
167Malawi1.4%
168Congo, DR1.3%
169N. Korea1.3%
170Thailand1.2%
171UAE1.2%
172Mongolia1.2%
173Kenya1.1%
World Avg11.5%
q=192.

4. Human Rights, Equality & Tolerance

#equality #freedom #human_rights #north_korea #politics #tolerance

This is a fully totalitarian dictatorship with no pretence to embrace any modern concept of human rights nor personal freedom17,18. N. Korea does worse than average in terms of LGBT equality19 and in speed of uptake of HR treaties20. It falls into the worst 20 when it comes to commentary in Human Rights Watch reports21 (one of the worst in Asia) and in its nominal commitment to Human Rights22. And finally, it is second-from-the-bottom in terms of supporting press freedom23. Of the millions of North Koreans subject to slavery, the "clear majority" are being held in forced labour by the state itself24. The Lonely Planet guide for traveller says that visiting North Korea is "a fascinating trip into another, unsettling world... with your official minders, you can roam mountain resorts and ancient capitals, though the main attractions remain the bombastic iconography of the North Korean regime and the surreal existence of ordinary people in this troubled, autocratic state"9.

For tables, charts and commentary, see:

5. North Korea's Health

#alcohol #birth_control #demographics #health #life_expectancy #longevity #North_Korea #obesity #overpopulation #parenting #population #smoking #vaccines

Health (2020)25,26
Pos.Lower is better
Avg Rank25,26
1Hong Kong18.0
2Singapore41.5
3Maldives43.3
...
16Italy66.4
17Bangladesh68.5
18Spain69.1
19N. Korea69.6
20Thailand70.4
21Qatar71.1
22Uzbekistan71.1
23Portugal71.5
24Kuwait72.3
World Avg92.3
q=187.

The countries with the best overall approach to public health, in terms of both public policy and individual lifestyle choices, are Hong Kong, Singapore and The Maldives25. These countries are worth emulating. And, although often through no fault of the average citizen, the worst countries are S. Sudan, Nigeria and Equatorial Guinea25.

The data sets used to calculate points for each country are its average life expectancy, its alcohol consumption rate, its fertility rate, its smoking rate, its suicide rate, its food aid and health contributions and WHO compliance, the prevalence of overweight adults, its adolescent birth rate and its immunizations take-up. The regions with the best average results per country are Scandinavia, Asia and Europe25, whereas the worst are Africa, Micronesia and Polynesia25.

Health:

North Korea does relatively well in encouraging good health, compared to many other countries. N. Korea does the best for its adolescent birth rate27. It does better than average in terms of its fertility rate13, its alcohol consumption rate28 (but high for Asia) and in its immunizations take-up29 (but low for Asia). N. Korea does not succeed in everything, however. It does worse than average in its smoking rate30 (still low for Asia) and in its average life expectancy12. The number of overweight adults has increased by 14% over the past 40 years.
Life Expectancy (2015)12
Pos.Higher is better
Years12
1Hong Kong84.16
2Japan83.68
3Italy83.34
...
111Ukraine71.13
112Azerbaijan70.90
113Kyrgyzstan70.79
114N. Korea70.52
115Trinidad & Tobago70.52
116Russia70.26
117Fiji70.15
118Belize70.08
World Avg71.27
q=190.
Alcohol Consumption (2016)28
Pos.Lower is better
Per Capita28
1Bangladesh0.0
2Kuwait0.0
3Libya0.0
...
65Gambia3.8
66Israel3.8
67UAE3.8
68N. Korea3.9
69Honduras4.0
70Jamaica4.2
71Sri Lanka4.3
72Bahamas4.4
World Avg6.2
q=189.
Fertility Rate (2013)13
Pos.2.0 is best13
1N. Korea2.00
2Brunei1.99
3St Vincent & Grenadines2.01
4France1.99
5Turkey2.04
6Australia1.96
7Uruguay2.05
8Norway1.95
9Myanmar (Burma)1.95
10Indonesia2.07
11Sweden1.93
12Tunisia1.93
World Avg2.81
q=180.
Smoking Rates (2014)30
Pos.Higher is worse30
182Montenegro4 125
181Belarus3 831
180Lebanon3 023
...
100Equatorial Guinea 649
99Cambodia 645
98Fiji 618
97N. Korea 610
96Jamaica 593
95Seychelles 590
94Malaysia 584
93Oman 577
World Avg 819
q=182.
Overweight Adults (2016)31
Pos.Lower is better
%31
1Vietnam18.3
2India19.7
3Bangladesh20.0
...
52Ghana32.0
53China32.3
54Mauritius32.3
55N. Korea32.4
56Thailand32.6
57Cameroon33.6
58Mauritania34.4
59Cape Verde34.8
World Avg49.0
q=191.

Children's Health:

Adolescent Birth Rate (2015)27
Pos.Lower is better
Per 100027
1N. Korea0.5
2S. Korea1.6
3Switzerland2.9
4Hong Kong3.2
5Slovenia3.8
6Singapore3.8
7Netherlands4.0
8Denmark4.0
9Japan4.1
10Cyprus5.0
11Sweden5.7
12Norway5.9
World Avg47.9
q=185.
Infant Immunizations 2011-2015 (2015)29
Pos.Higher is better
Avg %29
1Hungary99.0
2China99.0
3Uzbekistan98.9
...
82Germany94.0
83Lithuania93.9
84Estonia93.9
85N. Korea93.8
86Italy93.8
87Austria93.8
88Argentina93.7
89Bulgaria93.7
World Avg88.3
q=194.

6. North Korea's Modernity and Learning

#education

Modernity and Education:

Length of Schooling (2018)32
Pos.Higher is better
Years32
1Australia22.1
2Belgium19.7
3Finland19.3
...
154Laos11.1
155Malawi11.0
156Turkmenistan10.9
157N. Korea10.8
158Lesotho10.7
159Guatemala10.6
160Guinea-Bissau10.5
161Zimbabwe10.5
World Avg13.2
q=193.

7. National Culture

#corruption #politics

Corruption (2012-2016)33
Pos.Higher is better
Avg Score33
1Denmark90.8
2New Zealand90.6
3Finland89.4
...
169Turkmenistan18.2
170Libya16.8
171Iraq16.6
172S. Sudan13.8
173Sudan12.2
174Afghanistan10.8
175N. Korea08.8
176Somalia08.4
World Avg43.05
q=176.

8. Peace Versus Instability

#human_development #peace #politics

Global Peace Index (2012)34
Pos.Lower is better34
1Iceland1.11
2New Zealand1.24
3Denmark1.24
...
148Pakistan2.83
149Israel2.84
150Central African Rep.2.87
151N. Korea2.93
152Russia2.94
153Congo, DR3.07
154Iraq3.19
155Sudan3.19
World Avg2.02
q=157.

9. The Natural Environment

#biodiversity #climate_change #over-exploitation #the_environment

Forest Area Change 1990-2015 (2015)35
Pos.Higher is better
%35
1Iceland205.6
2Bahrain144.4
3Uruguay131.3
...
174Nicaragua-31.0
175Zimbabwe-36.6
176Sudan-37.5
177N. Korea-38.7
178Niger-41.3
179Pakistan-41.7
180Honduras-43.6
181Mauritania-45.9
World Avg02.8
q=184.
Environmental Performance (2018)36
Pos.Higher is better36
1Switzerland87.4
2France84.0
3Denmark81.6
4Malta80.9
5Sweden80.5
6UK79.9
7Luxembourg79.1
8Austria79.0
9Ireland78.8
10Finland78.6
11Iceland78.6
12Spain78.4
World Avg56.4
q=180.
Convention on Biological Diversity
Pos.Earlier is better
Signed
1China1993 Dec 29
2Guinea1993 Dec 29
3Cook Islands1993 Dec 29
...
92Bolivia1995 Jan 01
93Senegal1995 Jan 15
94Cameroon1995 Jan 17
95N. Korea1995 Jan 24
96San Marino1995 Jan 26
97Swaziland1995 Feb 07
98Zimbabwe1995 Feb 09
99Vietnam1995 Feb 14
World Avg1899 Dec 30
q=197.

10. Economic Inequality and Poverty

#health #inequality #life_expectancy

Inequality in Life Expectancy (2019)37
Pos.Higher is worse37
184Chad40.90
183Central African Rep.40.10
182Sierra Leone39.00
...
95Panama12.00
94Egypt11.60
93Ecuador11.50
92N. Korea11.50
91Kyrgyzstan11.30
90St Vincent & Grenadines11.30
89Grenada11.20
88Belize11.10
World Avg14.59
q=184.

11. Religion and Beliefs

#buddhism #christianity #hinduism #islam #judaism

Data from the Pew Forum, a professional polling outfit, states that in 2010 the religious makeup of this country was as follows in the table below38:

Christian2%
Muslim0.1%
Hindu0.1%
Buddhist1.5%
Folk Religion12.3%
Jew0.1%
Unaffiliated71.3%

The CIA World Factbook has slightly different data, and states: traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way). note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom39.

Links: