Updated ..
...Korea: End of N. Korea?. The history Pueblo
To Lethal To Fail
According to Nicholas Eberstadt a researcher with the
American Enterprise Institute and Harvard University
North Korea Must Go
A brief history shows why he may be right.

" Being a credible military menace, is now at the heart of North Korea's economic strategy and of its very strategy for survival. By extracting resources from the international community through military blackmail, the North Korean weapons of mass destruction are now their financial and political lifeline for that starving, decaying state. By the perverse logic of this design North Korea's vital interests lie in magnifying the deadly risks it can pose to the outside world. By Perfecting weaponry with ever greater reach and killing force North Korea's leaders are gambling that they can become too lethal to fail.".

Compliled and edited by Gary Pearlman

“At one particularly heated moment a North Korean military official declared: 'Surgical operation' style attack and 'preemptive strikes' are by no means an exclusive option of the United States. . . It must be clearly known that there is no limit to the strike of our People's Army and that on this planet there is no room for escaping the strike.”

Throughout its tenure, the DPRK has demonstrated its continuing capacity to surprise, usually in unpleasant ways. In the period ahead, more such surprises undoubtedly await us. They will be distinctly less unpleasant if our leaders and citizens do not take the end of North Korea to be an unimaginable proposition.

By Nicholas Eberstadt:Nicholas Eberstadt is a researcher with the American Enterprise Institute and Harvard University. His latest book is The End of North Korea (AEI Press, 1999), Reprinted with permission c The National Interest, No 57, Fall , Washington D.C. Supplement Sources: CIA Factbook, Human Events, Pueblo.org, SanDiego.edu.

In 1992, two years before his death, Kim Il Sung, the "Great Leader" of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK, or North Korea), began to publish a book about his life and times. He had an epic story to tell.

This former Soviet Red Army officer, after all, had survived dire perils and had gone on to savor triumphs of historic proportion. In 1950 he launched the Korean War in the mistaken hope of quickly overrunning and absorbing the Republic of Korea (ROK, or South Korea). Although his grave miscalculation led to an international embroilment that devastated his country, he managed to emerge from the disaster intact and unbowed. The world's greatest power, the United States, had fought against him for three years and had been unable to defeat him.

Kim openly founded a socialist dynasty in North Korea, with his brother and then later his son designated as heir. And he originated a quasi-religious philosophy juche-thought. Juche's twenty million avowed adherents, the entire populace of his country had been taught that the destiny and salvation of the Korean people, who had been partitioned between two separate and mutually hostile states through the settlements of World War II, would lie in an eventual reunification beneath an independent, socialist government, that is to say, Kim's own government, directed by Kim's own family.

But as the end the century now approaches, very different sorts of images of North Korea prevail. Some of those were conveyed in an arresting videotape broadcast on Japanese and South Korean television in December 1998. Shot secretly by a North Korean refugee, the video presented scenes from everyday life in several towns in the DPRK. Western journalists who watched the program described what they saw: Barefoot orphans sucking fishbones in a squalid outdoor market; women picking lice from each other's hair; men wading into a river to fish out the bodies of friends who starved to death or were shot by border guards. In one scene, an emaciated boy staggers from hunger as the cameraman asks him where he lives. The child is an orphan and lives on what scraps he can find in the open air market. He is clearly close to collapse. In another harrowing scene, a small girl tries to scoop dirty water to drink from a puddle with a plastic bag. Some of the children said they had run away from state-run 'relief centres' where the only food was two ladles of corn gruel a day. In some cases their parents had died or gone away to search for food and never came back.

Urban, industrial North Korea was and is manifestly in the grip of a terrible and protracted food crisis. Pyongyang had formally issued an emergency appeal for international humanitarian food aid in 1995, the year after Kim Il Sung's death; international relief operations have been under way ever since. At the end of the twentieth century, the regime has lost the capability to feed its own populace. In fact, its failure is so pervasive, so deep and so irremediable that we may now begin to speak of, and to contemplate, the end of the North Korean project.

Yet after the turn of the century the DPRK continues to function as a state: it vigorously controls its borders (and the people within them); it conducts a foreign policy; it demands and enjoys all the recognitions of sovereignty. Yet at the same time one can also say that the North Korean project, in some profound and meaningful sense, has already come to an end. For it has totally failed to accomplish the missions for which it was ostensibly constructed. Those missions were, first and foremost, the unification of the entire Korean Peninsula under its rule; and second, the implementation of a program of sustained socialist growth that would permit the state to amass steady power and allow the populace to enjoy a modicum of prosperity. The North Korean system has not achieved either of those objectives. But more than that: from our current vantage point it is apparent that socialist North Korea is systemically incapable of accomplishing those very objectives that justify its existence.

North Korea's relentless, bold and yet ultimately fruitless quest for unification of the Korean Peninsula on its own terms has been enshrouded for over fifty years, in deliberately fashioned mystery. By conscious and long-standing design, less reliable information is available about the DPRK than perhaps any other country in the modern world. (Compared with it, contemporary China is an open book.) To complicate matters further, "strategic deception" that is to say, programmatic efforts to mislead potential opponents about intentions and capabilities always seems to have figured prominently in North Korean statecraft. (Events leading up to Pyongyang's surprise attack against South Korea in June 1950 constitute the most famous of those exercises, but it is merely a single case in point.)

From the beginning,Pyongyang's leadership regarded the Republic of Korea to the south as a flawed, corrupt and illegitimate regime, a government with little chance of surviving on its own and with no right to do so. And from the very beginning, "unification" meant unification on Pyongyang's terms and Pyongyang's terms alone.

Over the next several decades, North Korea systematically and meticulously prepared to consummate that strategy by building its military might and waiting for the crisis in South Korea or the rupture in Washington-Seoul relations that would allow it to accomplish its mission.

The awaited opening never arrived. By the 1980s, it was apparent that North Korea's unification policy which at bottom had always been a gamble, was a lost bet. Contrary to the DPRK's portrayals, the Republic of Korea had developed into one of the postwar era's great economic success stories. And by the late 1980s, the South Korean political system, which had finally embraced the principles of constitutional democracy, was steadily gaining strength, confidence and domestic support. The U.S.-South Korean alliance, too, looked stronger than ever. Pyongyang's allies, by contrast, had made it clear that they would not aid the DPRK if it were to provoke another crisis on the Korean Peninsula. North Korea had missed its chance.

It would be misguided to dismiss North Korea's approach as a crazy scheme. Pyongyang's plan for unification-by-conquest was, rather, a careful, calculating, high-risk venture. Like many other high-risk ventures, it ultimately proved to be unsuccessful. But unlike most strategists and entrepreneurs who operate successfully in high-risk environments, Pyongyang had no "fall-back" plan.

In response to the increasingly menacing fundamentals in its contest against the South, North Korea made a tactical decision in the 1980s to lean heavily on the Soviet Union. But far from stabilizing in North Korea's favor, that ill-fated move actually precipitated the country's slide toward disaster. The break-up of the Soviet empire and the collapse of the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics exposed North Korea to a more perilous balance of international power than it had ever dealt with before. As well, the collapse of the USSR meant the end of military aid and subsidized trade from the Soviet bloc. By the late 1980s North Korea was heavily dependent on those quantities; their consequent sudden and virtually complete termination sent the North Korean system into a steep downward spiral. Pyongyang has, as yet, been unable to arrest that spiral, and the grand vision of reuniting Korea under its socialist banner has given way to a desperate focus on day-to-day survival.

The Economic farce

The failure of its unification strategy we should remember, did not presuppose North Korea's economic failure. North Korea would have lost the economic race against the South and thus eventually the opportunity to overpower it-even if it had maintained a steady and fairly respectable pace of growth. During its long contest against the South, however, the DPRK was unable even to sustain positive rates of economic growth. After apparently rapid progress in the two decades immediately following the Korean War, its economic growth seemed to slow markedly in the 1970s. By the 1980s the North Korean economy was stagnant; and in the 1990s it entered into a severe and as yet unremitting decline.

The severity of the decline is underscored by the hunger crisis it has provoked. Thus, even against the criterion of providing sustenance for the survival of the local populace-the most minimal standard for economic performance-the North Korean economy qualifies as a failure.

Initially, it might seem puzzling that the North Korean leadership has been incapable of arresting this prolonged economic tailspin when moderating that self-punishing regimen could be expected to bring an almost immediate measure of relief to the North's beleaguered economy.

For North Korea, as for every other country, international markets in goods, services and capital offer opportunities for reducing costs, improving productivity and promoting dynamism. In East Asia, the strategies of "outward orientation" and greater integration with the world economy-expanding trade, attracting foreign investment and encouraging technology transfers have been common to all countries that have achieved impressive rates of long-term economic growth. Significantly, those ranks today include both China and Vietnam-Asia's two other avowedly socialist states. Why, then, has the DPRK leadership not seized those obvious options for remedying the economic catastrophe that so plainly confronts it?

North Korea's leaders appear to be convinced that programs for economic revival pose an extreme, possibly mortal peril to their own system. Ruinous as North Korea's uninterrupted economic slide has proved the cures for the country's economic maladies are judged to be even more dangerous. Unfortunately, their assessment of their own predicament is on the mark, which means that they have little room for maneuver and few viable options at their disposal.

From Pyongyang's vantage point, the most compelling argument against moving in new economic directions is that those more "practical" policies would ultimately undermine the integrity and the stability of the socialist state. Not surprisingly, North Korean authorities closely analyzed the final crisis and downfall of Soviet-bloc socialism. In their understanding-and who can dispute it, economic pragmatism and economic reform are antithetical to socialism, and any socialist government toying with such measures is in effect experimenting with its own political defeat.

If the North Korean leadership truly views a more outward economic orientation as a threat to its vital interests, the mere lifting of U.S. sanctions cannot be expected to herald the awakening of a mutually beneficial economic relationship between the two sides. For North Korea stands to gain substantial and continuing benefits from the United States only if they can manage to formalize a one-sided economic relationship with Washington

Tribute-Seeking Diplomacy

Tribute is overseas aid on terms established by the recipient, not the donor. To be in a position to dictate just how foreign beneficiaries should bestow their largesse, of course, requires considerable and reliable leverage. How to obtain that leverage? North Korea apparently believes that it can achieve it through a carefully managed stratagem of military extortion. By establishing itself as an ever more menacing international security threat, North Korea evidently means to compel its neighbors-and, even better, its enemies-to propitiate the DPRK with a constant and swelling stream of financial gifts.

That is not simply surmise. North Korea's intentions have been spelled out by its highest authorities. At the same September 1998 Supreme People's Assembly that elevated Kim Jong Il to the DPRK's "highest post of state", North Korea's government officially embraced a new policy objective: that of becoming a "powerful and prosperous state" (Kangsong Taeguk). The precise meaning of that slogan was articulated the following month in Pyongyang's Minju Choson, which declared that "defense capabilities are a military guarantee for national political independence and the self-reliant economy"; the paper further insisted that "the nation can become prosperous only when the gun barrel is strong". Credible military menace, in other words, is now at the heart of North Korea's economic strategy-and of its very strategy for survival. By extracting resources from the international community through military blackmail, the North Korean leadership hopes to stave off the officially dreaded specters of "reform" and "opening." That complemented and reinforced by acute political and intellectual repression at home offers what Pyongyang takes as its best chance. As an endgame stratagem, this is not entirely misbegotten. In fact, it may be said already to have enjoyed a measure of tactical success.

The 1994 "Agreed Framework", after all, was only signed by Washington because Pyongyang was poised to amass an arsenal of nuclear weapons. In exchange for an ostensible freeze on that program, the United States has been shipping the DPRK half a million tons a year of free oil. In addition, the United States organized an international consortiumt the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization to construct for North Korea two "safe" light-water nuclear reactors at an eventual cost of over four billion dollars; work on that project is already under way. Amazing as this may sound, the DPRK appears to be the largest recipient of American aid in all of East Asia.

North Korea has demonstrated, furthermore, that nuclear threats can be manufactured for new, additional payments, irrespective of previous understandings. After signing the Agreed Framework, the DPRK began work onan enormous underground site whose observed specifications closely matched those to be expected of a surreptitious effort to continue a program for the development of nuclear weaponry. After detecting that suspect facility, the United States naturally demanded access to it. Subsequent high-tension negotiations in late 1998 and early 1999 resulted in an American pledge of over five hundred thousand tons of food aid to the DPRK-and an almost simultaneous North Korean promise to allow an American delegation to "visit" the site at Kumchang-ri.

At one particularly heated moment in the Kumchang-ri inspection negotiations, a North Korean military official declared: 'Surgical operation'-style attack and 'preemptive strike' are by no means an exclusive option of the United States. . . . It must be clearly known that there is no limit to the strike of our People's Army and that on this planet there is no room for escaping the strike. He was alluding to North Korea's long-range missile capabilities, whose latest advance was suddenly demonstrated in August 1998 by the firing-without advance warning-of a multistage ballistic rocket over the main island of Japan. (At this writing, North Korea is threatening the imminent launch of a new and improved ballistic missile-one that may at last be capable of reaching American soil.) That missile program happens to be another instrument through which Pyongyang intends to derive concessional payments from abroad.

In June 1998 North Korea's state media announced that the DPRK "will continue developing, testing, and deploying missiles" as a matter of unshakable principle-but proposed that "if the United States really wants to prevent our missile exports, it should . . . make a compensation for the losses to be caused by discontinued missile exports." In talks with American counterparts in early 1999, North Korean officials indicated that the "compensation" they had in mind would start out at one billion dollars a year.

Weapons of mass destruction are now the financial and political lifeline for that starving, decaying state. By the perverse logic of this design North Korea's vital interests lie in magnifying the deadly risks it can pose to the outside world. Perfecting weaponry with ever greater reach and killing force increases Pyongyang's scope for exacting international tribute. Just as business magnates in postwar South Korea strove to balloon their concerns into conglomerates that would be "too big to fail", so North Korea's leaders may be gambling that they can make the DPRK "too lethal to fail."

Thinking About the End

But that vision-if indeed it is the vision that shapes Pyongyang's policy-is an empty fantasy. The DPRK's extortionist diplomacy is utterly inadequate to the task of revitalizing the economic foundation on which the state rests. In a world where South Korean export revenues exceed two billion dollars a week, the sums that North Korea schemes to obtain are almost negligible. Under any circumstances, those sums would be insufficient to purchase a new industrial infrastructure, or to prepare a work force for manning it, especially when extensive commercial and technical contacts with the outside world are unacceptable. North Korea's endgame stratagem promises only to slow the country's relative and absolute economic decline, not to reverse it. At the very best, that game plan will only extend the ghastly, deepening twilight in which the regime is already enveloped.

If I am correct that the DPRK is slated for still further decline, and correct as well about the logic of the North Korean system, the implications for the international community are ominous indeed. More than any other state in the current global order, the DPRK makes its living not through the export of goods and services, but through the methodical export of strategic insecurity. Furthermore, the DPRK's vital interests would be grievously and irreparably injured if its government were ever to give in to what the international community desires very most: first, a real and permanent halt to its quest for nuclear weaponry; second, a demobilization of its program for perfecting long-range missiles; and third, the establishment of genuinely peaceful relations with the ROK.

That is not to say that Pyongyang might not some day commit to one or more of those courses. Leaders can miscalculate, and, often enough, do. But if North Korea's rulers-as they have so often stated-are resolved not to follow Gorbachev gently into the night, then we can only conclude that every extension of the regime's tenure will be marked by a corresponding improvement in Pyongyang's ability to inflict injury and provoke instability beyond its borders.

And yet, as North Korea fails, the international community moves to intervene with support. For Pyongyang, that is a highly satisfactory arrangement. It is less clear why it should be satisfactory to other governments. Wittingly or not, the principal powers with which North Korea interacts have fallen into policy of appeasement toward Pyongyang.

Why is appeasement taking place? Since the end of the Cold War, the character of governments has changed in some cases, radically. By comparison with their predecessors, the administrations now presiding in Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow, Seoul and Washington are either less capable of mobilizing resources to project national will abroad, less oriented toward international (as opposed to domestic) priorities, or less inclined to focus attention on long-term problems-or, in some cases, all of those things. This extraordinary conjuncture has doubtless played to North Korea's advantage.

A kinder analysis might ascribe the current appeasement of the DPRK less to a failure of nerve than to a failure of imagination. Conceptualizing the Korean Peninsula within a two-state framework leads international policymakers to guard the North Korean system against its own decline even though such support may ultimately worsen the security threats that those policymakers can expect to face in the future. For the stability and prosperity of Northeast Asia and regions far beyond it is therefore imperative for concerned governments to get out of the intellectual sand trap, one can easily envision a less troubled Korean Peninsula than the one we know today. Korean unification under a peaceable, politically free, market-oriented system-a system much like South Korea's today-would contribute immeasurably to political stability and economic prosperity, not only in Northeast Asia but well beyond it.

Throughout its tenure, the DPRK has demonstrated its continuing capacity to surprise, usually in unpleasant ways. In the period ahead, more such surprises undoubtedly await us. They will be distinctly less unpleasant if our leaders and citizens do not take the end of North Korea to be an unimaginable proposition.

The Korean people don't regard any of this as ancient history. It is fresh in their minds and governs howthey respond when the present U.S. administration assails them as part of an "Axis of Evil."
USS Pueblo Picture: US Navy
. The.Pueblo on Taedong River in Pyongyang, N. Korea. Picture: SanDiego.edu

On Jan. 28, 1968, the Pueblo, an intelligence-gathering ship, was approached by six North Korean vessels, including four torpedo boats and two fighter jets. Like the U.S. Navy EP-3E plane forced to land on Chinese territory, Captain Bucher’s ship was 24 miles off the east coast of North Korea, in international territory, at the time of the North Korean approach. Like the EP-3E, the Pueblo carried sensitive electronic equipment and was lightly armed.After assuming its night position of 25 nautical miles offshore, on 23 January Pueblo moved to 15 miles from the nearest land, which was Yo Do, an island near Wonsan.
He and his crew were subjected to 11 months of imprisonment and torture before the U.S. government issued a pro forma "apology" that allowed them to come home.
Interrogators struck Quartermaster Charles Law nearly 250 times with a board and "by fists to the head, groin, thighs and legs." Less than two weeks before the crew was released, Radioman Lee Hayes was struck repeatedly over the head and shoulders with 5-foot boards.

Similarly, when Pyongyang released a photo of smiling Pueblo crew members for American audiences, said Bucher, "[the Communists] never noticed that several of them were also making an obscene gesture with their fingers. They had never seen the ‘Hawaiian good luck sign.’

Interrogators struck Quartermaster Charles Law nearly 250 times with a board and "by fists to the head, groin, thighs and legs." Less than two weeks before the crew was released, Radioman Lee Hayes was struck repeatedly over the head and shoulders with 5-foot boards.

Almost immediately upon his incarceration, Bucher was ordered by his captors to sign a confession that the Pueblo had violated North Korean territorial waters. This he refused to do—even when a gun was put to his head and he was placed before a firing squad, which abruptly stopped its procedure after "Ready, aim . . ."

"But then I did sign it when they told me they would execute my crew before my eyes from the youngest to the oldest," said Bucher. He then made a radio "confession" that was broadcast worldwide. But, to signal that he was "confessing" against his will, Bucher cleverly punned on and misused the word "paean"—a hymn of praise—in his broadcast. "I deliberately mispronounced it," he said. "I said, ‘We pee on the North Korean state, we pee on their great leader Kim Il Sung.’ The North Koreans never picked up on it."

According to its new mission orders, Pueblo was tasked to:

1.  Intercept and locate coastal radars

2.  Determine the North Korean and Soviet reaction to overt intelligence collection and report on deployments indicating offensive actions against American forces

3.  Collect intelligence on Soviet Navy units

4.  Evaluate Pueblo's collection capabilities

5.  Depart the operating areas January 27 to intercept and conduct surveillance of Soviet Navy units in the Tsushima Straits

6.  Return to Sasebo, Japan by February 4

Recalling how he saw the U.S. vessel while on a trip to North Korea as a House staffer a few years ago, Rep. Mark Kirk (R.-Ill.) said, "The Pueblo is today a tourist attraction. They drag it around the harbor on their regular ‘anti-U.S. imperialism celebration.’"

To its skipper, allowing the North Koreans to continue to use the Pueblo in such a manner is unconscionable—particularly at a time when the United States. has begun to send oil and other needed supplies to that economically ravaged country. "This is just another level of attack on us from a hostile regime that has never changed its ways," he said. "If we are going to aid people like this, at the very least, we should insist that they return a ship that is still on the Navy rolls and is still sovereign U.S. property."

The Korean people don't regard any of this as ancient history. It is fresh in their minds and governs how they respond when the present U.S. administration assails them as part of an "Axis of Evil." The unrelenting military pressure from Washington, represented by some 37,000 troops in south Korea and annual war games in which more than half a million U.S. and south Korean troops take part, plus the constant presence of nuclear-armed warships and planes in the sea and air surrounding them, are more than enough to convince the leaders of the DPRK to take every U.S. threat seriously and to plan accordingly.


A final confession in anticipation of leniency for my crew and myself for the heinous crimes perpetrated by ourselves while conducting horrible outrages against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea for the purpose of provocating and annoying those stalwarts of peace-loving humanity. The absolute truth of this bowel wrenching confession is attested to by my fervent desire to paean the Korean People’s Army Navy, and their government and to beseech the Korean people to forgive our dastardly deeds unmatched since Attila. I therefore swear the following account to be true on the sacred honor of the Great Speckled Bird.

Following rigorous training in provacation and intrusion wherein each of my officers had to meet the overly high standards I had set for them we emerged from the bowels of San Diego harbor bent on setting records for the highest yardage gained in intrusions ever set in the standard patrol. Our first stop was Hawaii where I visited the kingpin of all provocateurs, including spies. None other than Fleet General Barney Google. He was all I had been told, sly, cunning, closed mouthed, bulbous nosed, smelling of musty top secrets and some foul smelling medicine that kept him going twenty hours a day in pursuit of the perfect spy mission. He talked haltingly with me but persuasively about our forthcoming mission. "By God, Bucher, I want you to get in there and be elusive, spy them out, spy out their water, look sharp for signs of electronic saline water traps. You will be going to spy out the DPRK. By the sainted General Bullmoose we must learn why they are so advanced in the art of people’s defense."

We entered into our assigned operating areas along the Eastern Korean Sea at latitude 39N and boldly steamed in a northerly direction to the farthest point we could. In so doing we had traversed Operation Areas Mars, Venus, and Pluto so named because like the planets, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea is really far out. We knew that the lackeys of the Bowery Street Billionaires would never be satiated until we had found out all there was to know about the huge successes that the noble peace loving peoples of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea had made in the recent past. Surely we had to find out how come such a newly created government could lead its peoples so quickly into the number one position. As we went about detecting this valuable information, particularly the oceanic salinity, density, ionic dispersion rate, humpback whale counts, both low and high protoplasmic unicellular uglena and plankton counts. This information was of the highest value to our own scientists for the development of war mongering at sea when no one was looking.

Now we have come to realize just how great our crimes were and we seek the leniency of the Korean people even though we are criminals of the basest variety and deserve only swift punishment of the just Korean law. Further, we know that our crimes are greater than those of any criminals discovered this century, nevertheless we ask forgiveness and promise never to engage in such naughty acts ever again if we are forgiven. We know that our crime is merely a reflection of the dastardly policies of the Bowery Street Billionaires and we can only hope they will realize their own responsibilities for our actions; because who else could have dreamed up such a heinous and foul playing ship as Pueblo and then searched out enough arch criminals such as we to operate it. Yea, we feel it is time indeed for those really responsible for us to step forward and accept their own roles and Admit, Apologize and give Assurances that they will never again prepare another spy bag to be filled with goodies.

In summation, we who have been rotating upon the fickle finger of fate for such long languid months give our word to the Great Speckled Bird that we will heretofor in all sincerity cleanse ourselves of rottenness and vituperations. We solemnly await our return to our loved ones so that the fickle finger can be replaced by the rosy fingers of dawn and salvation. So help me, Hanna.

Kim Jong Il with father Kim Il Sung The country's founder From DPRkorea

The country's founder, president KIM Il Sung, died in 1994

From DPR korea

Following World War II, Korea was split into a northern, communist half and a southern, Western-oriented half. KIM Jong Il has ruled North Korea since his father and the country's founder, president KIM Il Sung, died in 1994. After decades of mismanagement, the North relies heavily on international food aid to feed its population, while continuing to expend resources to maintain an army of about 1 million. North Korea's long-range missile development and research into nuclear and chemical weapons are of major concern to the international community.In 1932, Kim Il Sung had established this fighting force to consolidate and elevate the armed struggle against the Japanese colonial rulers, who had annexed Korea in 1910.

North Koreans are supposedly not allowed to fold their money, because to do so would crease the portrait of Kim Il Sung.North Koreans are supposedly not allowed to fold their banknotes, because to do so would crease the portrait of Kim Il Sung.

Tourists are not to be trusted: the visitor money depicts only North Korea’s odd national emblem. It’s a knockoff of the Soviet sheaves-of-wheat crest, which according to the DPRK constitution, bears the design of a grand hydroelectric power station under Mt. Paektu, the sacred mountain of the revolution, and the beaming light of a five-pointed red star, with ears of rice forming an oval frame, bound with a red ribbon bearing the inscription The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Population: 21,968,228 (July 2001 est.)

Total population:  Life expectancy at birth: total population:  71.02 years

Male:  68.04 years Female:  74.15 years (2001 est.)

Korean Ethnic groups:
racially homogeneous;
There is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese Religions:

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 freedom

- main lines in use: 1.1 million (1997)

Satellite earth stations -
1 Intelsat (Indian Ocean)
1 Russian. (Indian Ocean region)
Other international connections through Moscow and Beijing

Radio broadcast stations: AM 16, FM 14, shortwave 12 (1999)

Radios: 3.36 million (1997)

Television broadcast stations: 38 (1999)

Televisions: 1.2 million (1997)

Internet country code: .kp

Internet Service Providers (ISPs): 1 (2000)

North Korea:
Military branches:

Korean People's Army (includes Army, Navy, Air Force),

Civil Security Forces Military manpower - military age: 18 years of age

Military manpower - availability: males age 15-49:  5,943,735 (2001 est.)

Military manpower - fit for military service: males age 15-49:  3,574,050 (2001 est.)

Military manpower - reaching military age annually: males:  179,136 (2001 est.)

Military expenditures - dollar figure: $3.7 billion to $4.9 billion (FY98 est.)

Military expenditures - percent of GDP: 25% to 33% (FY98 est.)
North Korea,
Transnational Issues:Disputes:

International: 33-km section of boundary with China in the Paektu-san (mountain) area is indefinite; Demarcation Line with South Korea

Source: CIA Factbook