Korea, North

Country Summary

2022 population pyramid



An independent kingdom for much of its history, following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Soviet-sponsored communist control. North Korea, under its founder, President KIM Il Sung, adopted a policy of diplomatic and economic "self-reliance" as a check against outside influence. KIM Jong Il, was officially designated as his father's successor in 1980, followed in 2011 by current leader KIM Jong Un.



total: 120,538 sq km

land: 120,408 sq km

water: 130 sq km


temperate, with rainfall concentrated in summer; long, bitter winters

Natural resources

coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, precious metals, hydropower

People and Society


25,955,138 (2022 est.)

Ethnic groups

racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese




traditionally Buddhist and Confucian, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way)

Population growth rate

0.46% (2022 est.)


Government type

dictatorship, single-party state; official state ideology of "Juche" or "national self-reliance"


name: Pyongyang

Executive branch

chief of state: State Affairs Commission President KIM Jong Un (since 17 December 2011); note - North Korea revised its constitution in 2019 to define "the Chairman of the State Affairs Commission" as "the supreme leader who represents the state"; functions as the commander-in-chief and chief executive; the specific titles associated with this office have changed multiple times under KIM's tenure, however, KIM Jong Un has been supreme leader since his father's death in 2011

head of government: Supreme People's Assembly President CHOE Ryong Hae (since 11 April 2019); note - functions as the technical head of state and performs related duties, such as receiving ambassadors' credentials (2021)

Legislative branch

description: unicameral Supreme People's Assembly or Ch'oego Inmin Hoeui (687 seats; members directly elected by majority vote in 2 rounds if needed to serve 5-year terms); note - the Korean Workers' Party selects all candidates


Economic overview

one of the last centrally planned economies; hard hit by COVID-19, crop failures, international sanctions, and isolationist policies; declining growth and trade, and heavily reliant on China; poor exchange rate stability; economic data integrity issues

Real GDP (purchasing power parity)

$40 billion (2015 est.)

Real GDP per capita

$1,700 (2015 est.)

Agricultural products

rice, maize, vegetables, apples, potatoes, cabbages, fruit, sweet potatoes, beans, soybeans


military products; machine building, electric power, chemicals; mining (coal, iron ore, limestone, magnesite, graphite, copper, zinc, lead, and precious metals), metallurgy; textiles, food processing; tourism


$222 million (2018)

Exports - partners

China 67%, Suriname 6% (2019)

Exports - commodities

watch components, fake hair, iron alloys, instructional models, tungsten (2019)


$2.32 billion (2018 est.)

Imports - partners

China 96% (2019)

Imports - commodities

clothing and apparel, soybean oil, rice, wheat products, clocks/watches (2019)

Exchange rates

North Korean won (KPW) per US dollar (average market rate)

Page last updated: Tuesday, August 02, 2022