History of North Korea
North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, was founded in September of 1948 and has gone through several decades of change. This country is located in the northern part of the Korean peninsula, making it bordered by both Russia and China. During the Korean War of 1950-53, the boundaries were set when an armistice agreement was signed by the UN and North Korea. Since then, the two territories have remained separated. The DMZ, which stands for Demilitarized Zone, is still in place today and the only place where both North and South Korea can come together and communicate. This area has been heavily fortified over the years and is one of the most heavily monitored places in the world.
Geography of North Korea
The official name of North Korea is the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, which lies in the northern region of the Korean peninsula. It covers an area of around 120,569 square kilometers and consists of several isolated mountain ranges along with undulating plains towards the eastern part of the country. The highest mountain peak in this country is the Mt. Chon with an altitude of over 2,744 meters. Both peripheral and inland water bodies can be seen in this landlocked country. The two major rivers found in North Korea are the Tumen and Yalu Rivers. The climate in this region is generally temperate in nature but this varies greatly due to the varied topography.
Politics of North Korea
North Korea is an authoritarian state, which means it is ruled by an absolute leader. The country is currently under the rule of the third-generation leader of the ruling family, Kim Jong Un, who acts as the supreme leader. The government in North Korea is divided into three branches: the Executive, Legislature and Judiciary. The President of North Korea is elected by the people and holds a great deal of power. He is the commander-in-chief of the armed forces and also has the authority to appoint the members of the cabinet. The Supreme People’s Assembly is the legislative body of North Korea and consists of the representatives from each region in the country. In addition, the Central Court of Law is the court of last resort in the judiciary of North Korea.
Economy of North Korea
North Korea is a largely isolated nation and its economic performance has suffered due to this. The country is almost wholly dependent on China for foreign trade, as it is one of the few countries that still recognize and trade with North Korea. Over the last several years, North Korea has made attempts to open up its economy in the hope of improving its standard of living, though they continue to remain far behind their counterparts in South Korea.
A major part of North Korea’s economy comes from the agricultural sector, but the country has also made efforts to expand its heavy industries, such as the chemical, electricity and coal production industries. The country has also recently started to develop its military industry, which has proved to be one of the most lucrative industries in the country.
Population of North Korea
North Korea has a population of over 25 million, primarily made up of non-Han Chinese ethnicities such as the Kyrgyz, Korean, Manchurian and Mongolian. This population is fairly young with the median age at 32, thanks to the country’s high birth rate.
The economy in North Korea is unable to produce enough food for its population, resulting in widespread malnutrition and poverty. Resources in the country are also highly limited and the government relies heavily on foreign aid from other countries, with China being its most prominent donor.
Where Is North Korea On Map?
North Korea is located in the northern region of the Korean peninsula, sandwiched between Russia and China. The east coast of the country is bordered by the Sea of Japan, while the west coast faces the Korean Bay. South Korea lies to the south and east. Other major cities in North Korea include Pyongyang, its capital city, Hamhung in the northeast, Chongjin in the north, and Rason at the northern tip of the peninsula. Visitors can also find the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) in North Korea, which separates the country into North and South Korea. On the map, North Korea appears slightly larger than the rest of the peninsula.
Foreign Relations of North Korea
Foreign relations with North Korea have been severely strained for decades, particularly after the Korean War. North Korea has traditionally been opposed to both the United States and South Korea, refusing to engage in diplomatic relations. The United Nations Security Council has passed multiple sanctions against North Korea in an effort to end its nuclear weapon proliferation, though the country has made little effort to comply.
Despite the chill in foreign relations, North Korea has continued to maintain good relations and direct contact with China, largely due to their shared ideologies and close geographic proximity. China has also been a major provider of aid, both economically and politically, to North Korea.
Tourism in North Korea
Tourism to North Korea is heavily restricted and mainly focused on the promotion and education of the North Korean lifestyle. Yearly, thousands of tourists flock to the country to experience its unique cultural attractions and historical sites, though the country has taken several steps to limit tourist access lately.
Traveling to North Korea requires travelers to possess a valid passport and to obtain a special permit from the government. It is advised that visitors receive an invitation from the National Tourism Administration prior to their visit. Those looking to explore the country further may also consider visiting Educational Tourism Programs, which give guided tours of various areas and attractions in North Korea.
Interactions with the International Community
North Korea has traditionally sought to maintain its independence due to the hostile nature of its foreign relations, though the country has recently made some efforts to improve these. North Korea participated in the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympic Games and has undertaken dialogue related to its nuclear program, though the talks have made little progress.
The United Nations Security Council has maintained sanctions against North Korea in an effort to pressure the country into obeying international rules, although there has been some visible progress. Additionally, various countries with friendly relations with North Korea, such as China, are continuing to assist the country with diplomatic solutions.
Cultural Practices in North Korea
Though North Korea remains largely isolated from the international community, tourists are still able to uncover the intriguing facets of the country’s culture through direct interaction with the locals. Traditional attire involves both the Hanbok style for women, consisting of vibrant colored clothing with elaborately designed patterns, and the simpler and plainer attire of men. During social occasions, such as the Changgo festival, guests enjoy festivities such as traditional singing and dancing.
In North Korea, education is valued and the country continues to have a Literacy Rate of 100%, allowing North Koreans to learn and grow through the knowledge they gain. North Korea is also home to several cultural practices, such as the impressive Arirang Mass Games, where thousands of colorfully dressed performers perform synchronized movements with awe-inspiring results.
Media of North Korea
North Korea’s media outlets are heavily controlled by the government, making it difficult to gauge the legitimate concerns of the citizens. Most media coverage of North Korea focuses on politics, military, and economic news, usually to highlight the successes of the current regime. Official media is often highly biased and many stories lack factual evidence, making it difficult to interpret the veracity of the information.
Despite the lack of independent media outlets, information is still able to travel outside of the country via smuggled cell phones and other forms of communication. Additionally, non-governmental foreign media is accessible via the internet, which gives North Koreans some access to independent news sources.