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North Korea Table of Contents

North Korea



Women workers at the Taean Heavy Machinery Complex
Courtesy Tracy Woodward


Construction workers on Tongil Street, P'yongyang
Courtesy Tracy Woodward


Figure 6. Selected Industrial and Mining Activity, 1992

Source: Based on information from Korea (L nderkarte.) Gotha, Germany, 1990; Australia, Ministry of Defense, Joint Intelligence Organisation, North and South Korea Economic Activities, Canberra, 1975; and K.P. Wang et al., Mineral Industries o the Far East and South Asia, Washington, 1988, 70-72.

North Korea's self-reliant development strategy assigned top priority to developing heavy industry, with parallel development in agriculture and light industry. This policy was achieved mainly by giving heavy industry preferential allocation of state investment funds. More than 50 percent of state investment went to the industrial sector during the 1954-76 period (47.6 percent, 51.3 percent, 57.0 percent, and 49.0 percent, respectively, during the Three-Year Plan, Five-Year Plan, First Seven-Year Plan, and Six-Year Plan). As a result, gross industrial output grew rapidly.

As was the case with the growth in national output, the pace of growth has slowed markedly since the 1960s. The rate declined from 41.7 percent and 36.6 percent a year during the Three-Year Plan and Five-Year Plan, respectively, to 12.8 percent, 16.3 percent, and 12.2 percent, respectively, during the First SevenYear Plan, Six-Year Plan, and Second Seven-Year Plan. As a result of faster growth in industry, that sector's share in total national output increased from 16.8 percent in 1946 to 57.3 percent in 1970. Since the 1970s, industry's share in national output has remained relatively stable. From all indications, the pace of industrialization during the Third Seven-Year Plan up to 1991 is far below the planned rate of 9.6 percent. In 1990 it was estimated that the industrial sector's share of national output was 56 percent.

Industry's share of the combined total of gross agricultural and industrial output climbed from 28 percent in 1946 to well over 90 percent in 1980 (see Agriculture, Forestry, and Fisheries , this ch.). Heavy industry received more than 80 percent of the total state investment in industry between 1954 and 1976 (81.1 percent, 82.6 percent, 80 percent, and 83 percent, respectively, during the Three-Year Plan, Five-Year Plan, First Seven-Year Plan, and Six-Year Plan), and was overwhelmingly favored over light industry.

North Korea claims to have fulfilled the Second Seven-Year Plan (1978-84) target of raising the industrial output in 1984 to 120 percent of the 1977 target, equivalent to an average annual growth rate of 12.2 percent. Judging from the production of major commodities that form the greater part of industrial output, however, it is unlikely that this happened. For example, the increase during the 1978-84 plan period for electric power, coal, steel, metal-cutting machines, tractors, passenger cars, chemical fertilizers, chemical fibers, cement, and textiles, respectively, was 78 percent, 50 percent, 85 percent, 67 percent, 50 percent, 20 percent, 56 percent, 80 percent, 78 percent, and 45 percent.

Data as of June 1993