North Korea

North Korea is a country in North East Asia. It occupies the northern half of the Korean Peninsula. The country is ruled by the Kim Dynasty and the Korean Workers Party. It is an oligarchy. 

In North Korea the military is incredibly important. For many years the DPRK had a military first policy. North Korea has one of the world’s largest militaries. North Korea is still officially at war with its neighbour South Korea.

The population of North Korea is around 22 million people. Most people live in cities. North Korean agriculture is very inefficient and the country imports lots of food aid from NGO’s. Malnutrition is a huge problem in North Korea. In the 1990’s there was a huge famine that killed upto a million people. 

Recently there was an article in Anthropology Today about North Korea but it didn’t really do much than state a few facts about the geo-political situation in North East Asia. I found it frustrating that it did not attempt to give more detail about the ethnographic situation in North Korea. 

North Korea is a martial state. It was a totalitarian system of top down control and a harsh legal system. It is estimated that there are hundreds of thousands of political prisoners in North Korean labour camps where conditions are incredibly harsh. 

North Korean society is governed by a system of Songbun or social merit. Each person or family is graded according to their Songbun. Songbun dictates where you can live, which jobs you can get and how much food you have access to. 

The North Korean landscape is characterised by dense wooded hills often topped with now defunct Buddhist monasteries. Since the 90s many of the hills are denuded of trees since they were chopped down for fuel. 

The North Korean city of Hamhung was designed by East German town planners in the 1950s according to the Bauhaus style. 

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