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An independent kingdom for much of its long history, Korea was occupied by Japan beginning in 1905 following the Russo-Japanese War. Five years later, Japan formally annexed the entire peninsula. Following World War II, Korea was split with the northern half coming under Soviet-sponsored Communist control. After failing in the Korean War (1950-53) to conquer the US-backed Republic of Korea (ROK) in the southern portion by force, North Korea (DPRK), under its founder President KIM Il Sung, adopted a policy of ostensible diplomatic and economic "self-reliance" as a check against outside influence. The DPRK demonized the US as the ultimate threat to its social system through state-funded propaganda, and molded political, economic, and military policies around the core ideological objective of eventual unification of Korea under Pyongyang's control. KIM Il Sung's son, KIM Jong Il, was officially designated as his father's successor in 1980, assuming a growing political and managerial role until the elder KIM's death in 1994. KIM Jong Un was publicly unveiled as his father's successor in September 2010. Following KIM Jong Il's death in December 2011, the regime began to take actions to transfer power to KIM Jong Un and Jong Un has begun to assume his father's former titles and duties. After decades of economic mismanagement and resource misallocation, the DPRK since the mid-1990s has relied heavily on international aid to feed its population. North Korea's history of regional military provocations, proliferation of military-related items, long-range missile development, WMD programs including tests of nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009, and massive conventional armed forces are of major concern to the international community. The regime has marked 2012, the centenary of KIM Il Sung's birth, a banner year; to that end, the country has heightened its focus on developing its economy and improving its people's livelihoods.


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Geography

Location
Eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea

Geographic coordinates
40 00 N, 127 00 E

Map references
Asia

Area World Ranking: 99
Total 120,538 sq km
Land 120,408 sq km
Water 130 sq km

Area - comparative
Slightly smaller than Mississippi

Land boundaries
Total 1,671.5 km
Border countries
China 1,416 km, South Korea 238 km, Russia 17.5 km

Coastline
2,495 km

Maritime claims
Territorial sea 12 nm
Exclusive economic zone 200 nm
Note
Military boundary line 50 nm in the Sea of Japan and the exclusive economic zone limit in the Yellow Sea where all foreign vessels and aircraft without permission are banned

Climate
Temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer

Terrain
Mostly hills and mountains separated by deep, narrow valleys; coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east

Elevation extremes
Lowest point Sea of Japan 0 m
Highest point Paektu-san 2,744 m

Natural resources
Coal, lead, tungsten, zinc, graphite, magnesite, iron ore, copper, gold, pyrites, salt, fluorspar, hydropower

Land use
Arable land 22.4%
Permanent crops 1.66%
Other 75.94% (2005)

Irrigated land
14,600 sq km (2003)

Total renewable water resources
77.1 cu km (1999)

Freshwater withdrawal (domestic/industrial/agricultural)
Total 9.02 cu km/yr (20%/25%/55%)
Per capita 401 cu m/yr (2000)

Natural hazards
Late spring droughts often followed by severe flooding; occasional typhoons during the early fall
Volcanism
Changbaishan (elev. 2,744 m) (also known as Baitoushan, Baegdu or P'aektu-san), on the Chinese border, is considered historically active

Environment - current issues
Water pollution; inadequate supplies of potable water; waterborne disease; deforestation; soil erosion and degradation

Environment - international agreements
Party to
Antarctic Treaty, Biodiversity, Climate Change, Climate Change-Kyoto Protocol, Desertification, Environmental Modification, Hazardous Wastes, Ozone Layer Protection, Ship Pollution
Signed, but not ratified Law of the Sea

Geography - note
Strategic location bordering China, South Korea, and Russia; mountainous interior is isolated and sparsely populated


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  North Korea (Pyongyang):


  GPS points from North Korea (Pyongyang)

Mojilmol Hwanghae-namdo

Osang-dong Chagang-do

Kare-dong Hamgyong-namdo

Kunjang-dong North Korea (general)

Kyongwon Hamgyong-bukto

Suk-kogae Hwanghae-namdo

Chung-dong Kangwon-do

Taewangdok-san Kangwon-do




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