North Korea

sovereign state in East Asia

North Korea (Korean: 조선, MR: Chosŏn; literally 북조선, MR: Pukchosŏn, or 북한/北韓, RR: Bukhan in South Korean usage), officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK or DPR Korea; Korean: 조선민주주의인민공화국, Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk), is a country in East Asia constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. The country is bordered to the north by China and by Russia along the Amnok (known as the Yalu in Chinese) and Tumen rivers, and to the south by South Korea, with the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two. North Korea, like its southern counterpart, claims to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands. Pyongyang is the country's capital and largest city. In 1910, Korea was annexed by Imperial Japan. At the Japanese surrender at the end of World War II in 1945, Korea was divided into two zones, with the north occupied by the Soviet Union and the south occupied by the United States. Negotiations on reunification failed, and in 1948, separate governments were formed: the socialist Democratic People's Republic of Korea in the north, and the capitalist Republic of Korea in the south. An invasion initiated by North Korea led to the Korean War (1950–1953). The Korean Armistice Agreement brought about a ceasefire, but no peace treaty was signed. According to article 1 of the constitution of North Korea, the DPRK is an "independent socialist State". North Korea holds elections, though they have been described by independent observers as sham elections. North Korea is generally viewed as a totalitarian Stalinist dictatorship, particularly noting the elaborate cult of personality around the Kim dynasty. The Workers' Party of Korea (WPK), led by a member of the ruling family, holds absolute power in the state and leads the Democratic Front for the Reunification of the Fatherland of which all political officers are required to be members. According to article 3 of the constitution of the DPRK, Kimilsungism-Kimjongilism is the North Korean official ideology. The means of production are owned by the state through state-run enterprises and collectivized farms. Most services—such as healthcare, education, housing and food production—are subsidized or state-funded. From 1994 to 1998, North Korea suffered a famine that resulted in the deaths of between 240,000 and 420,000 people, and the population continues to suffer malnutrition. North Korea follows Songun, or "military-first" policy. It is the country with the highest number of military and paramilitary personnel, with a total of 9,495,000 active, reserve and paramilitary personnel, or approximately 37% of its population. Its active duty army of 1.21 million is the fourth-largest in the world, after China, the United States and India; consisting of 4.7% of its population. It possesses nuclear weapons. In addition to being a member of the United Nations since 1991, North Korea is also a member of the Non-Aligned Movement, G77 and the ASEAN Regional Forum. A 2014 UN inquiry into abuses of human rights in North Korea concluded that, "the gravity, scale and nature of these violations reveal a state that does not have any parallel in the contemporary world," with Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch holding similar views. The North Korean government denies these abuses.
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