North Korea

'North Korea' can also refer to...

Age at menarche and its influencing factors in North Korean female refugees

Allan R. MillettThe War for Korea, 1950–1951: They Came from the North. (Modern War Studies.) Lawrence: University Press of Kansas. 2010. Pp. xx, 644. $45.00

Andrei Lankov. Crisis in North Korea: The Failure of De-Stalinization, 1956. (Hawai'i Studies on Korea.) Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press. Center for Korean Studies: University of Hawai'i. 2005. Pp. xv, 274. $48.00

Arms Control Law in Crisis? A Study of the North Korean Nuclear Issue

Art under Control in North Korea

Assessing the Role of Security Assurances in Dealing with North Korea

Balázs Szalontai. Kim Il Sung in the Khrushchev Era: Soviet-DPRK Relations and the Roots of North Korean Despotism, 1953–1964. (Cold War International History Project Series.) Stanford, Calif.: Stanford University Press. 2005. Pp. xxiii, 343. $60.00

The Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale in Older Community Samples in Indonesia, North Korea, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand

Charles K. Armstrong. The North Korean Revolution, 1945–1950. (Studies of the East Asian Institute.) Ithaca: Cornell University Press. 2003. Pp. xv, 265. $39.95

Charles K. Armstrong. Tyranny of the Weak: North Korea and the World, 1950–1992.

Clockwise rotation of the Korean Peninsula with respect to the North China Block inferred from an improved Early Triassic palaeomagnetic pole for the Ryeongnam Block

Collective identity formation on the Korean Peninsula: United States' different North Korea policies, Kim Dae-Jung's Sunshine Policy, and United States–South Korea–North Korea relations

Crime and economic instability: the real security threat from North Korea and what to do about it

Enforced Disarmament without War? The Control of North Korean Nuclear Weapons


Frame Flow between Government and the News Media and its Effects on the Public: Framing of North Korea

Frame Flow Between Government and the News Media and its Effects on the Public: Framing of North Korea

Freedom and Homecoming: Narratives of Migration in the Repatriation of Zainichi Koreans to North Korea

Fresh Wineskins for New Wine: A New Perspective on North Korean Christianity

Gregg Brazinsky. Nation Building in South Korea: Koreans, Americans, and the Making of a Democracy. (The New Cold War History.) Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press. 2007. Pp. xii, 311. $45.00.

Haeju (North Korea)

Hamgyŏng (North Korea)

Hamhŭng (North Korea)

How North Korea threatens China's interests: understanding Chinese ‘duplicity’ on the North Korean nuclear issue

Hŭngnam (North Korea)

Hwanghae (North Korea)

Hyun Ok Park. Two Dreams in One Bed: Empire, Social Life, and the Origins of the North Korean Revolution in Manchuria. (Asia-Pacific: Culture, Politics, and Society.) Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press. 2005. Pp. xix, 314. Cloth $84.95, paper $23.95

Kaesŏng (North Korea)

Kimch'aek (North Korea)

Kita Chōsen e no Ekusodasu: ‘Kikoku Jigyō’ no Kage o Tadoru (Exodus to North Korea: Tracing the Shadows of the ‘Returnee’ Project)Exodus to North Korea: Shadows from Japan's Cold War


More Like This

Show all results sharing this subject:

  • world history


Quick Reference

A north-east Asian country. Consisting of the northern half of the Korean peninsula, mostly above the 38th parallel, North Korea was formed from the zone occupied by the Soviet Union at the end of World War II. It borders to the south with South Korea and to the north with the People's Republic of China.


North Korea is largely mountainous with narrow valleys, extensive forests, and rivers which freeze in winter.


North Korea is rich in metal deposits such as iron ore, magnesite, phosphate, sulphur, zinc, and copper, which are major exports. 90% of cultivated land is owned by cooperatives producing the principal crops of rice, maize, and potatoes. In the mid-1990s the economy suffered a dramatic collapse owing to the ending of preferential trading terms with the Soviet Union and China and severe floods that had a devastating effect on agriculture. It is believed that over a quarter of GNP is spent on the armed forces, which are thought to be amongst the world's largest.


The Democratic People's Republic was proclaimed an independent state on 1 May 1948. Intent on reuniting Korea, North Korea launched a surprise attack on South Korea in June 1950, suffering considerable damage and loss of life in the following three years of the indecisive Korean War. After the war, the ruling communist party of Kim Il Sung (first President of North Korea) undertook a programme of reconstruction, using the country's mineral and power resources to finance economic development. From the early 1980s, however, the economy was stagnant and then in decline. This was a factor in the decision in 1985 to hold a series of economic talks with South Korea, after the many years of tension. The result was a marked upturn in trade between the two countries ($25 million in 1990 to $192 million in 1991). Kim Il Sung was re-elected in 1990; he supported a policy of seeking ‘normalization’ with South Korea, but not of reunification. Talks between respective premiers began in September 1990 and continued into 1992, when an economic agreement was signed. Tensions flared again in the later 1990s, over allegations that North Korea was building nuclear weapons and a series of incursions into South Korean territory. A mutual cooperation treaty between the two Koreas was signed in 2000. Kim Jong Il (1942– ) succeeded his father as President in 1995. There was renewed concern about North Korea's nuclear programme from 2002.




122,400 sq km (47,300 sq miles)


22,488,000 (2005)


1 North Korean won = 100 chon


Atheist or non-religious 71.2%; Ch'ondogyo 12.9%; traditional beliefs 12.3%; Christian 2.1%; Buddhist 1.5%

Ethnic Groups:

Korean 99.8%; Chinese 0.2%


Korean (official); Chinese

International Organizations:

UN; Non-Aligned Movement

Subjects: world history.

Reference entries

See all related reference entries in Oxford Index »