North Korea: The Country and Military by the Numbers, Update 2

Print Email

Update: According to the AP:

“North Korea on Sunday fired a medium-range missile, U.S. and South Korean officials said, in the latest ballistics test for a country speeding up its development of nuclear weapons and missiles.”

“The rocket was fired from an area near the North Korean county of Pukchang, in South Phyongan Province, and flew eastward about 500 kilometers (310 miles), said South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff”


Despite its very modest size geographically and economically, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK), or more commonly North Korea, has become a major threat to global stability. Among the reasons are the size of its military, its development of advanced missiles that could deliver nuclear weapons, perhaps as far as the West Coast of the United States, and its cyber warfare skills.

Economically, North Korea is one of the poorest countries in the world. Its population of about 25 million lives in extreme poverty, with annual estimated per capita income of $1,800, according to the CIA Factbook.

The country’s literacy rate is 100%, and both males and females attend school for 12 years.

The life expectancy in the country is estimated at 70.4 years, comprised of an average of 66.6 years for men and 74.5 years for women. Nearly half (44%) of the population falls in the 25- to 54-year-old age category, and less than 10% of the population is over 65 years old. In the United States, just over 15% of the population is over 65 years old and less than 40% falls in the 25 to 54 age range.

North Korea’s economy is highly dependent on China. About 75% of the country’s $4.15 billion in exports are sent to China, and 76% of its $4.8 billion in imports come from China.

According to the CIA Factbook, North Korea is a source country for men, women and children who are subjected to forced labor and sex trafficking. Workers are not free to change jobs, and “tens of thousands” of North Koreans, including children, are held in prison camps and subjected to forced, heavy labor.

The country’s capital city is Pyongyang and the executive branch of the DPRK’s government is headed by Kim Jong Un, the grandson of Kim Il Sung and the son of Kim Jong Il, who ruled the country since its founding in 1948. The former has been designated the Eternal President and the latter the Eternal General Secretary. The current premier is Pak Pong Ju, and there are eight vice premiers.