North Korea is a country located in the region of Eastern Asia. In early 2018, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-Un announced that the goal of developing nuclear weapons had been successfully achieved. Then, since 2016, the country had conducted dozens of robotic tests and three nuclear weapons tests as tensions increased in the region. The authoritarian and unpredictable one-party state would henceforth devote all its power to building the troubled economy.
The Kim dynasty has been able to maintain its strong grip on power through rigorous surveillance of citizens, a deeply rooted culture of indignation and brutal punishments even for minor wrongdoing. At the same time, loyal employees have been rewarded with business contracts, sought-after jobs and better living conditions. As a child, the North Koreans are fed with the regime’s propaganda and personal cult around the Kim dynasty.
- Countryaah: Country facts and history of North Korea, including state flag, location map, demographics, GDP data, currency code, and business statistics.
Since taking over the leadership role in 2012, Kim Jong-Un has strengthened his power by remodeling the community’s leadership layer and reproducing the ruling Labor Party’s influence over politics at the expense of the military. He has carried out hundreds of high-level purges, both in the military and in political positions, and replaced them with people he himself trusts.
The repression has intensified with more public executions and stricter surveillance from police and security services. One of the most influential people who lost their lives was Kim Jong-Un’s own married uncle Jang Song-Thaek, the supposed second-in-command of the leadership, who at the end of 2013 removed all his posts in the party and military leadership and was executed. He was charged with treason and must have admitted that he planned a takeover of power. Yet another proof of how far Kim Jong-Un is willing to go to secure his grip on power was the assassination of Kim Jong-Nam’s half-brother in Malaysia in February 2017. According to Malaysian police, North Korean agents were behind the assassination with nerve gas.
The party’s influence is growing
Kim Jong-Un has endeavored to give the party greater influence over the state, the country’s economy and security policy. The fact that the country’s most powerful governing body was replaced by a constitutional amendment with the state affairs commission by the National Defense Commission in 2016 was an important part of the change (see also Political system). The National Defense Commission had been formed to control defense and security-related issues, but it was used by Kim Jong-Il (the country’s former leader who was the father of Kim Jong-Un) to also control non-military areas and as a means for his political focus on prioritizing the military in all respects. By replacing this commission with the State Affairs Commission, whose members no longer had a distinct military link and where he himself chaired, Kim Jong-Un marked not only an end to the military’s priorities but also a clear offshoot of “Kim Jong-Un era, “. In 2016, Kim Jong-Un was also given the title of Chairman of the Labor Party, which he was named when the Labor Party held its first party congress since 1980 in May. So far he had led the party,
Among Kim Jong-Un’s confidants in the regime’s highest leadership are his younger sister Kim Yo-Jong today. Her confidence in her has grown stronger. She is not only deputy head of the party’s influential propaganda department, but was also elected as an alternate member of the party’s executive committee, the Politburo, in the fall of 2017. She has also played an important role in contacts with South Korea in recent times (see Foreign Policy and Defense) and led the North Korean delegation who participated in the inaugural Winter Olympics in South Korea in February 2018.
Early on, Kim Jong-Un stood for a tougher line to the outside world than his father, and he has driven the development of nuclear and robotic weapons (see Foreign Policy and Defense). Under Kim Jong-Un’s rule, the country has conducted four nuclear weapons tests and some 80 tests of different types of robots.
Kim Jong-Un has not been susceptible to military threats, sanctions or cooperation calls: the development of the nuclear weapons program has continued steadily. In early September 2017, the country conducted its sixth nuclear explosion, which observers around the world determined was a hydrogen bomb, and in November of that year a new form of intercontinental robot (Hwasong 15) was tested, which experts say can reach anywhere in the United States. After both tests, the UN imposed harsh sanctions against the country’s oil imports, textile exports and the opportunities for North Koreans to work abroad (see Calendar and Foreign Policy and Defense.)
A new strategic direction
Deep-rooted and widespread corruption, widespread poverty, substandard infrastructure and recurring periods of drought and flooding are some of the many problems that hinder North Korea’s development.
In her January 2018 New Year figure, Kim Jong-Un explained that the parallel strategy of developing nuclear weapons at the same time as the economy had successfully fulfilled its purpose. In April, the party decided at a meeting that the new strategic line would be to put all the effort into developing the country’s economy.
The economy has been hit hard by the sanctions introduced by the outside world following the North Korean nuclear weapons and robot tests (see Economic overview) and in North Korea, the sanctions have been highlighted as the major obstacle to economic development. In order to build up the economy and gain momentum, trade, investment and other exchanges with the outside world are required – something that impedes sanctions.
In 2018, a rapprochement between North and South Korea began and three summits were held between the leaders of both countries. A historic meeting was held in June the same year between Kim Jong-Un and US President Trump in Singapore and in February 2019 they met again in Vietnam (see Foreign Policy and Defense). But no agreement has yet been reached on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program and the sanctions remain.
Follow the ongoing event development in the Calendar.
FACTS – POLITICS
Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
republic, unitary state
Head of State
Choe Ryong Hae (2019−) has representative duties while Kim Jong-Un is “leader”
Head of government
Kim Jae-Ryong (2019)
Most important parties with mandates in the last election
Democratic front for the motherland reunification 687
Main parties with mandates in the second most recent elections
Democratic front for the motherland reunification 687
no general elections are held
election to the highest general assembly in 2024