The North Korea Portal
North Korea (Korean: 조선/朝鮮, MR: Chosŏn; literally 북조선/北朝鮮, MR: Pukchosŏn, or 북한/北韓, RR: Bukhan in South Korean usage), officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or DPR Korea; Korean: 조선민주주의인민공화국/朝鮮民主主義人民共和國, Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk), is a country in East Asia constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. The country is bordered to the north by China and by Russia along the Amnok (known as the Yalu in Chinese) and Tumen rivers, and to the south by South Korea, with the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two. North Korea, like its southern counterpart, claims to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands. Pyongyang is the country's capital and largest city.
In 1910, Korea was annexed by Imperial Japan. At the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II in 1945, Korea was divided into two zones, with the north occupied by the Soviet Union and the south occupied by the United States. Negotiations on reunification failed, and in 1948, separate governments were formed: the socialist Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north, and the capitalist Republic of Korea in the south. An invasion initiated by North Korea led to the Korean War (1950–1953). The Korean Armistice Agreement brought about a ceasefire, but no peace treaty was signed, and the border stayed the same as before.
According to article 1 of the constitution of North Korea, the DPRK is an "independent socialist State". North Korea holds elections, though they have been described by independent observers as sham elections. North Korea is a totalitarian dictatorship, with an elaborate cult of personality around the Kim dynasty. The Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), led by a member of the ruling family, holds absolute power in the state and leads the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland of which all political officers are required to be members. According to article 3 of the constitution of the DPRK, Juche is the North Korean official ideology. The means of production are owned by the state through state-run enterprises and collectivized farms. Most services—such as healthcare, education, housing and food production—are subsidized or state-funded. From 1994 to 1998, North Korea suffered a famine that resulted in the deaths of between 240,000 and 420,000 people, and the population continues to suffer malnutrition. North Korea follows Songun, or "military-first" policy. It is the country with the highest number of military and paramilitary personnel, with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve and paramilitary personnel, or approximately 37% of its population. Its active duty army of 1.21 million is the fourth-largest in the world, after China, the United States and India; consisting of 4.7% of its population. It possesses nuclear weapons. In addition to being a member of the United Nations since 1991, North Korea is also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, G77 and the ASEAN Regional Forum.
A 2014 UN inquiry into abuses of human rights in North Korea concluded that, "the gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world," with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch holding similar views. The North Korean government denies these abuses. (Full article...)
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The status of women in North Korea is not fully understood outside the country, due to the political isolation of North Korea, the unwillingness of the North Korean authorities to allow foreign investigators access in the country, and the existence of conflicting reports. The official position of the North Korean government is that women have equal rights with men.
North Korea has enacted laws such as the Law on Sex Equality, the Labor Law, and the Law on Nationalization of Essential Industries. Although these social systems have not entirely been successful, they have been integrated into daily life to help women. The reforms implemented provided women's rights at work, rights of inheriting and sharing of properties, and rights of free marriage and divorce. North Korea also outlawed polygamy. The state confiscated all privately owned land, eliminating property discrimination. Today, women in North Korea participate in a variety of labor forces, and there is a considerable number of women who are in high positions. Also, there are many facilities for women including sanatoria, rest homes, and maternity hospitals.
The ratio of women to men in high wage jobs is considerably lower than that of low wage jobs. In addition, most women in high positions in society are either relatives or wives of top leaders. Irrespective of the reforms attempting to weaken patriarchal social structures, the political atmosphere is an example of the same patriarchal structure that the reforms intended to dissolve. This demonstrates the degree to which Neo-Confucian
ideals still permeate and affect social and political policies. North Korea has not followed China and Vietnam in their campaigns against Confucianism. (Full article...
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North Korea in the news
Did you know...
- ... that Spring is Coming was the first South Korean musical performance in the North in over a decade, and was attended by North Korean leader Kim Jong-un?
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The following are images from various North Korea-related articles on Wikipedia.
At the Pyongyang Embroidery Institute
2012 rehearsal in Pyongyang for Victory Day, marking the end of the war
Kim and Moon meet at the DMZ in 2018
The Hamhŭng Grand Theatre, one of the biggest in North Korea, completed in 1984
Portraits of Kim Il-sung and his son and successor Kim Jong-il
The captured USS Pueblo being visited by tourists in Pyongyang
US planes bombing Wonsan, North Korea, 1951
Lapel pins from North Korea
North Korean village in the Yalu River delta
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