Religion: traditionally Buddhist and Confucianist, some Christian and syncretic Chondogyo (Religion of the Heavenly Way)
Note: autonomous religious activities now almost nonexistent; government-sponsored religious groups exist to provide illusion of religious freedom
Major urban areas: Pyongyang 2,843,000; Hamhung 768,551; Chongjin 667,929; Nampo 366,341; Wonsan 363,127; Sinuiju 359,341; Tanchon 345,876; Kaechon 319,554; Kaesong 308,440; Sariwon 307,764
Time difference: 14 hours ahead of EST @ Standard Time
Ethnic groups: racially homogeneous; there is a small Chinese community and a few ethnic Japanese
Government type: Communist state one-man dictatorship
Literacy rate: 100%
Summary of North Korea
Known as the "Hermit Kingdom," North Korea has chosen to isolate its people from the outside world. The government of this East Asian country on the northern half of the Korean Peninsula rigidly controls the information coming into and going out of the country. Its isolation has diminished somewhat, though, as North Korea's nuclear aspirations, its large standing army, and severe food shortages have drawn the interest and concern of its neighbors and the world.
The extreme secrecy of the North Korean government makes it difficult to know exactly how North Koreans live. Since the country's formation in 1948, the dictatorships of Kim Il-sung and his son, Kim Jong-il, and their Juche or self-reliance philosophy have formed the North Korea we see today. The government dictates the lifestyle of the people through generic provisions and by limiting personal differences. Much of North Korea is rural and underdeveloped. Natural disasters and military spending have strapped the economy. It is estimated that over the past fifteen years, two million North Koreans have died due to food shortages. North Korea has had to rely on foreign aid for food to feed its people. The North Korean government has been accused of torture, slavery, public executions, forced abortions, infanticides, as well as detaining possibly 200,000 political prisoners.
Once called the "Jerusalem of the East," Pyongyang, North Korea's capital, no longer can claim that title as many of its Christians fled to South Korea during the Korean War. Instead, the doctrine of Juche has become a religion with the Kims as its deities. Information about the Christian church in North Korea today is limited, but it is known to survive in the face of intense persecution. It has become an underground church where meetings and worship must be held in secret, and members know that if they are caught they will be thrown in prison or sent to a labor camp. Due to intense government control of the media, most North Koreans have never heard the name of Jesus.
(Used with permission from www.prayercast.com/north-korea.html.)
((Statistical information taken from CIA World Factbook))