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Poverty & Hunger

Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK

North Korea

In the early years of the 21st Century

Description: Description: Description: NorthKorea

CAUTION:  The following links and accompanying text have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the DPRK in the early years of the 21st Century.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated, misleading or even false.   No attempt has been made to validate their authenticity or to verify their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of poverty are of particular interest to you.  You might be interested in exploring the relationship between distribution of labor and per-capita GDP, for example.  Perhaps your paper could focus on life expectancy or infant mortality.  Other factors of interest might be unemployment, literacy, access to basic services, etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include some of the possible outgrowths of poverty such as Human Trafficking, Street Children, or even Prostitution.  There is a lot to the subject of Poverty.  Scan other countries as well as this one.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

*** Extreme Weather ***

The North Korean Ministry of Land and Environmental Protection estimates that the country’s average temperature rose by 1.9°C between 1918 and 2000. North Korea ranked seventh in the Climate Risk Index for being hard-hit by climate-related extreme weather events between 1992 and 2011.

In January 2023, authorities issued an extreme cold weather alert as a cold wave swept across the Korean peninsula. Temperatures were expected to dip below -30°C in the northern regions, which are also the poorest parts of the country. Despite these challenges, North Korea continues to grapple with natural disasters, climate fluctuations, and their impact on its population.adapted from Microsoft BING Copilot

*** ARCHIVES ***

The World Factbook – North Korea

U.S. Central Intelligence Agency CIA

[accessed 16 November 2020]

World Factbook website has moved to --->

[accessed 6 January 2021]

ECONOMIC OVERVIEW - one of the world’s most centrally directed and least open economies; faces stagnation, underinvestment, and chronic shortages, largely as a result of mismanagement, isolation, largescale military spending, and international sanctions

GDP - per capita (PPP): $1,700 (2015 est.)

Labor force - by occupation:

agriculture: 37%

industry: 63% (2008 est.)

Unemployment rate: 25.6% (2013 est.)

Population below poverty line: N/A

Maternal mortality rate: 89 deaths/100,000 live births (2017 est.)

Infant mortality rate: total: 20 deaths/1,000 live births

Life expectancy at birth: total population: 71.6 years

Drinking water source: improved: total: 94.5% of population

Physicians density: 3.68 physicians/1,000 population (2017)

Sanitation facility access: improved: total: 84.5% of population

Electricity access: electrification - total population: 26% (2016)

The Borgen Project – North Korea

[accessed 23 February 2021]

The Borgen Project works with U.S. leaders to utilize the United States’ platform behind efforts toward improving living conditions for the world’s poor.  It is an innovative, national campaign that is working to make poverty a focus of U.S. foreign policy.  It believes that leaders of the most powerful nation on earth should be doing more to address global poverty. From ending segregation to providing women with the right to vote, nearly every wrong ever righted in history was achieved through advocacy. The Borgen Project addresses the big picture, operating at the political level advancing policies and programs that improve living conditions for those living on less than $1 per day.

~ The Reality Of Women’s Rights In North Korea

~ Homelessness In North Korea

~ Healthcare In North Korea

~ 4 Influences On Poverty In North Korea

~ The State Of Hunger In North Korea

~ 10 Facts About Education In North Korea

~ An Impoverished Kingdom: Poverty In North Korea

~ 5 Facts About Health In North Korea

UN Rights Official Warns of Starvation, Poverty in North Korea From Long COVID-19 Lockdown

Radio Free Asia RFA, 12 March 2021

[accessed 13 March 2021]

Border closures have isolated “people who are already subject to patterns of serious human rights abuses,” says Tomás Ojea Quintana.

North Koreans are starving to death, with children and elderly resorting to begging in the streets or risking execution by breaking laws to obtain food from China, a new report by the UN Special Rapporteur on North Korean Human Rights says, calling for the country to face international justice for mistreating its population.

“In December 2020, a man in his 50s who was allegedly involved in illicit trade with China was reportedly publicly executed. In November 2020, two border guard officers and two rank-and-file soldiers allegedly involved in smuggling were reportedly executed. The same month, a high-profile moneychanger was allegedly executed in Pyongyang,” the report said.

The COVID-19 pandemic has made an already dire human rights situation worse. In January 2020, Beijing and Pyongyang closed the entirety of the 840-mile Sino-Korean border and suspended all trade.

The closure was devastating for the North Korean economy, already pinched by U.S. and UN nuclear sanctions. Much of North Korean commerce depends on the purchase and sale of imported Chinese goods to the point that the border closure killed off economic activity in entire towns, leaving people with no way to support themselves.

Looking back a few years …

Advameg, Inc., Encyclopedia of the Nations

[accessed 8 December 2020]

In January 1995 the United States sent a first installment of 50,000 tons of fuel, but in 1995 and 1996 the North Korean population became victims of widespread malnutrition and famine, worsened by the government's rejection of outside observers and reluctance to admit the seriousness of the situation, despite its unprecedented appeal for foreign aid in 1995. Lacking money to fuel and repair tractors, and to pay for fertilizer, the government had called for and/or allowed the cultivation of marginal land with professed target of doubling food production. The counter-productive result was crop-destroying flooding in 1995 and 1996

Drought conditions that followed worsened not only the food shortage but also the energy shortage by reducing the output from hydroelectric facilities. By 1997, most North Koreans had come to depend on government rations, which were reduced to 3.5 to 5.3 oz. per person a day.

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