Map of North Korea


For its size of 120,538 sq km  ( slightly smaller than Nicaragua ) , population ( roughly 24 million, about the same as Ghana and Yemen ) and nominal GDP slightly less than Ethiopia , North Korea or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea ( DPRK ) exerts a weighty influence on world affairs . Its large army ( fourth in the world in terms of number of troops ),development of nuclear weapons and provokative actions make it a flashpoint for a regional or even a world war. How did this come to be ?


On July 27, 1953, there was a final burst of firing along the line, then the hills were quiet.  Both armies withdrew 2 kilometers, leaving a four kilometer wide DMZ. The Korean War was over. An official peace treaty, however, was never signed, and the two Koreas have technically been at war since 1950. North Korea had suffered an estimated 500,000 casualties and the country was devastated by American bombings. The North inherited a more industrialized country than the South, as the Japanese had located many industries in the North to help with the war effort. While many of these facilities were destroyed in the war, the basic groundwork remained. While the Chinese stayed out of internal domestic politics,they demanded management of the war. Peng Dehuai was reported to have said that the war was between him and MacArthur, and Kim  Il Song had no part in it. This of course irked the supreme North Korean leader, and in the Revolutionary museum in Pyongyang today there is not a single picture of  the Chinese contribution to the Korean War. The Chinese occupation force did not depart North Korea till 1958. American forces are still in South Korea till this day.



Welcome to North Korea is a  look at the real conditions in modern-day North Korea.

The winner of the 2001 International Emmy award for Best Documentary



Go undercover with National Geographic correspondent Lisa Ling as she journeys into mysterious and reclusive North Korea.


A huge oil refinery in Wonson bombed out in 1950.

Much of North Korea devastated by American bombing.


After the war, Kim took control of North Korean politics, with the support of the armed forces, who respected his wartime record and long resistance to the Japanese. Pak Hon-yong, party vice chairman and Foreign Minister of the DPRK, was blamed for the failure of the southern population to support North Korea during the war and was executed after a show-trial in 1955. Pak had told Kim that 200,000 South Koreans would rise up after the invasion and overthrow the South Korean government. Most of the South Korean leftists who defected to the North in 19451953 were also accused of espionage and other crimes and killed, imprisoned or exiled to remote agricultural and mining villages. Most of the South Korean Communist were expelled from the party.


There were some challenges to Kim Il Song's rule during and after the Korean War, but the coup leaders were disorganized. Kim systematically purged his political opponents to gain permanent and unlimited power. In theory Kim as premier reported to the legislature, in reality he was dictator, king for life, with more power than any Korean king ever held. He lived in luxury with at least five palaces in North Korea. The Workers' Party of Korea merged with other Korean Communist parties and  has remained ruling party in the DPRK since its foundation.



 A brief history of North Korea


North Korea and South Korea Facts from CIA Fact Book


 North Korea militia trainees 2011


North Korean Population ( 2009 est) 24,051,218     South Korea Population 48,754,657  ( 2011 est )

North Korean GDP (2008 est) $28.2 billion 94th in world        

South Korean GDP $1.375 trillion ( 2009 est )  44th in world

North Korean GDP per Capita $1,800 (2009 est.)      South Korean GDP per Capita $28,300 ( 2009 est )

North Korean Land Area  120,538 sq km  ( slightly smaller than Mississippi )

South Korean Land Area 99,720 sq km ( slightly larger than Indiana )

North Korea's life expectancy was 63.8 years in 2009

South Korean Life Expectancy 79.05 years




Kim Il-Sung's life to the Korean War

 1912 - 1950s


Reconstruction & Growth

The 1960s


North Korean Government-Juche


Personality Cult


Rise of military,

The Blue House raid,

USS Pueblo

Economic Downturn

Sino-Soviet Split

 The 1970s


Rangoon Bombing

Seoul Olympics

KAL 858 Bombing   

 The 1980s


1988 to the collapse

of the USSR

in 1991


The Death of Kim Il Sung 

and Succession of Kim Jong Il


1990s North Korean Nuclear and Missle Program

  Flood and Famine   

North Korean Prison Camps


North Korea sinks South Korean navy ship


Death of Kim Jong-Il, succession of Kim Jong-Un


North Korean Military


North Korean Economy and Currency


Traveling to North Korea


Daily Life in North Korea


Mass Games


North Korean

Propaganda Posters


North Korean Movies


North Korean History Timeline


North Korean Links






 Post War

South Korea


 Kim Il-Sung's life

to the Korean War