North Korea

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So this is the way we live now: conditioned by the awareness that no North Korean provocation, however egregious, can be confronted, lest it furnish the occasion or pretext for something truly barbarous and insane.

Christopher Hitchens


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In mid-2013 North Korea's new leader Kim Jong-un remained an unknown quantity. It was unclear to what extent he relied on his own reasoning (a probably unlikely hypothesis) and to what extent he depended on the advice of his inner circle of advisers (see ‘Inner Circle’ below). What is for sure is that on his watch tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen to new peaks, as has the constant flow of warmongering threats against both the US and South Korea emanating from Pyongyang. In power since December 2011, the 30-year-old Mr Kim was certainly an inexperienced and untested leader. His intentions remained unclear, leaving the sixty-four thousand dollar question as to whether he is speaking out in a bid to strengthen his personal position or is doing so at the bidding of older, more experienced – but not necessarily more reasonable - figures. 

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- Timeline

- Political structure

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- Time

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- Dress codes

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Key Facts

Key Facts:

Key Facts
Official name: Chosun Minchu-chui Inmin Konghwa-guk (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) (DPRK)
Head of State: General Secretary of KWP Kim Jong-un (from 19 Dec 2011). In 1998, his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, who died in 1994, was named President of North Korea for Life.
Head of government: Premier Pak Pong-ju (from 2 April 2013)
Ruling party: Chosun Rodongdang (Korean Workers' Party) (KWP)
Area: 122,400 square km
Population: 24.45 million (2011)*
Capital: Pyongyang
Official language: Korean
Currency: Won (W) = 100 chon)
Exchange rate: W900.00 per US$ (Nov 2015)
GDP per capita: US$508 (2010)
GDP real growth: 2.50% (2011)*
GDP: US$12.30 billion (2010)
* estimated figure


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