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North Korea Table of Contents

North Korea


Character and Structure: Socialized, centralized, planned, and primarily industrialized command economy. Principal means of production owned by state through state-run enterprises or cooperative farms. Prices, wages, trade, budget, and banking under strict government control. Growth rate 1984-90 averaged about 3 percent annually. Poor domestic economic performance; gross national product (GNP) down 3.7 percent in 1990 and down 5.2 percent in 1991. Total 1991 GNP US$22.9 billion, or US$1,038 per capita. Withdrawal of Soviet aid in 1991 negatively affected economy.

Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries: Traditional source of employment and income but, under party rule, secondary to industry. Completely collectivized by 1958. Estimated 18 percent land, agricultural use; approximately 25 percent GNP. Principal crops: rice, corn, potatoes, soybeans, and pulses. Largely self-sufficient in food production, but reported food shortages. Growth in agriculture, forestry, and fisheries sector 2.8 percent in 1991; increase in rice and other crops offset decrease in fish products.

Industry: Machine building, military products, electric power, chemicals, mining, metallurgy, textiles, and food processing. Manufacturing concentrates on heavy industry; ratio of heavy to light industry in 1990 was 8:2. In 1991 oil imports fell 25 percent; coal production, 6.5 percent; and electricity generation, 5.2 percent. Shortages in oil, coal, and electricity in 1991 led to idled plants and 13.4 percent decrease in manufacturing output.

Labor: Labor force estimated at about 11.2 million in mid-1990; approximately 33.5 percent agricultural, down from about 43 percent agricultural in mid-1980. Shortage of skilled and unskilled labor.

Currency and Exchange Rate: 1 wn = 100 chon. As of December 1991, US$1 = 97.1 chon.

Foreign Trade: Major exports: minerals, metallurgical products, agricultural products, and manufactures, for a total of US$1.95 billion (free on board, 1989). Trade statistics according to North Korean source: imports US$2.28 billion, exports US$1.24 billion, and deficit US$1.04 billion in 1991. Estimated 1991 trade decreased by approximately 25 percent, especially affected by withdrawal of Soviet trade concessions beginning January 1991- -almost 40 percent--but trade with China up about 17 percent and increased trade with South Korea. Major imports: petroleum, machinery and transport equipment, coking coal, and grain, for a total of US$2.85 billion (free on board, 1989). Major trading partners: Russia, China, and Japan; to a lesser degree, Hong Kong, Germany, India, Canada, and Singapore. Trade with South Korea classified as internal, not international; major hardcurrency source. Lack of foreign investors. Joint Venture Law enacted in 1984, but few projects to mid-1993 and mostly Ch'ochongryn (General Association of Korean Residents in Japan) firms. Foreign investment, contractual joint venture, and foreign enterprise laws enacted October 1992 to induce investment.

Data as of June 1993