Volksrepublik in O-Asien, siehe Korea.
A communist country in the northern half of the Korean Peninsula; established in 1948.
See Korea, North.
Country in E Asia, bounded NE by Russia, N and NW by China, E by the Sea of Japan, S by South Korea, and W by the Yellow Sea.
Under the 1972 constitution, which replaced the 1948 Soviet-type constitution, the leading political figure is the president, who is head of the armed forces and executive head of government. The president is appointed for four-year terms by the 687-member supreme people's assembly, which is directly elected by universal suffrage. The assembly meets for brief sessions once or twice a year, its regular legislative business being carried out by a smaller permanent standing committee (presidium). The president works with and presides over a powerful policy-making and supervisory central people's committee (which is responsible to the assembly for its activities) and an administrative and executive cabinet (administration council).
For early history, see Korea: history. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was formed from the zone north of the 38th parallel of latitude, occupied by Soviet troops after Japan’s surrender 1945. The USSR installed in power an “Executive Committee of the Korean People”, staffed by Soviet-trained Korean communists, before North Korea was declared a People’s Republic 1948 under the leadership of the Workers’ Party of Korea (KWP), with Kim Il Sung as president. The remaining Soviet forces withdrew 1949.
In 1950 North Korea, seeking unification of the Korean peninsula, launched a large-scale invasion of South Korea. This began the three-year Korean War which, after intervention by United Nations forces supported by the US (on the side of the South) and by China (on the side of the North), ended in stalemate. The 38th parallel border between North and South was reestablished by the armistice agreement of July 1953, and a UN-patrolled demilitarized buffer zone was created. North Korea has never accepted this agreement and remains committed to reunification.
Despite the establishment 1972 of a North–South coordinating committee to promote peaceful unification, relations with the South remained tense and hostile. Border incidents were frequent, and in Oct 1983 four South Korean cabinet ministers were assassinated in Rangoon, Burma (Myanmar), in a bombing incident organized by two North Korean army officers.
Domestically, the years after 1948 saw economic development in a planned socialist manner. Factories were nationalized and agriculture collectivized in the 1950s, and priority in investment programs wsa given to heavy industry and rural mechanization. North Korean economic growth has, however, lagged behind that of its richer and more populous southern neighbor. In foreign affairs, North Korea adopted a neutral stance in the Sino-Soviet dispute, signing a friendship and mutual assistance treaty with China 1961 while at the same time receiving economic and military aid from the USSR. North Korea remained largely immune from the pluralist or market-socialist wave of reform that swept other communist nations from 1987.
In the 1980s, North Korean politics became dominated by the succession question, with Kim Il Sung seeking to establish his son, Kim Jong Il, as sole heir designate. His portrait was placed on public display across the country, and in Jan 1992, Kim Jong Il replaced his father as supreme commander of the armed forces. Elements within the Workers' Party and armed forces appeared, however, to oppose Kim's succession aims.
effort to end isolation
Anxious to end its international isolation because of mounting economic shortages, North Korea sought external alliances from 1990. In Sept 1990 Prime Minister Yon Hyong Muk made an unprecedented three-day official visit to South Korea, the highest level official contact since 1948. In Nov–Dec 1990, after four decades of bitter hostility, North Korea had its first formal contact (in Beijing, China) with the Japanese government. The collapse of communism in the USSR deprived North Korea of considerable military and economic aid and China failed to fill the breach. North Korea was forced to further review its isolationist strategy and began to seek foreign inward investment, especially Japanese. The country was admitted to the United Nations, simultaneously with South Korea, Sept 1991, and on 13 Dec 1991 a nonaggression pact was signed with South Korea, which included the restoration of cross-border communication links, the reunion of divided families, and the free movement of people, commerce, and ideas.
In Jan 1992, following an agreement signed with South Korea in Dec banning the production and deployment of nuclear weapons, North Korea also signed the Nuclear Safeguards Agreement, allowing for international inspection of its nuclear facilities.
tensions with the outside world
In Dec 1992 Yon Hyong Muk was replaced as prime minister by Kang Song San, who had served as premier 1984–86. Two weeks before the expiry of a deadline for the international inspection of two suspected nuclear waste sites March 1993, the North Korean government announced its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, prompting fears that the country was secretly developing nuclear weapons. North Korea retracted its threats to withdraw from the treaty June 1993, after holding bilateral talks with the US. However, in Nov 1993, amid evidence that North Korean military forces were massing near the country's southern border, President Clinton announced that an attack on South Korea would be considered a direct attack on the US itself. He also declared that North Korea should be prohibited from building a nuclear weapon. Kim Il Sung died July 1994 and, after a prolonged period of mourning, was replaced as national leader by his son, Kim Jong Il. In Jan 1995 the US eased a 44-year-old trade embargo after
North Korea agreed to halt its nuclear-development program in return for US financial aid.
Since 1990 North Korea's economy has contracted by 4% per annum.