Archive for the ‘GDP statistics’ Category

ROK reports DPRK economy little changed in the last year

Friday, April 12th, 2013

According to Yonhap:

According to the data compiled by the Ministry of Unification and based on information provided by foreign institutions, there were minor improvements in grain production and electricity output, but the difference was minimal and may have actually fueled inequality.

“Personally, I see almost no change from a year earlier,” said a ministry official, who did not want to be identified.

The data was released to the press to coincide with the first anniversary of the North Korean leader having assumed the country’s top job. Kim inherited the communist country after the death of his father in late 2011, but became the first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea on April 11 of last year.

North Korea’s food production is estimated to have increased 10.5 percent on-year to 4.92 million tons in the 2012-2013 grain year, the official said, adding that this translates into a shortage of 210,000 tons, down from 300,000 tons from the previous year.

The official, however, said foreign data is based purely on information given by Pyongyang, and is not reliable.

“There may be a need to carefully look at the data on grain,” he said, hinting at the fact that there have been numerous cases over the years where official information was not supported by facts.

On power production, the recent opening of the Huichon power station has increased output by 21.1 billion kilowatts, but the benefits are mostly being felt by the elite in Pyongyang. Outside the capital city, other regions are still affected by power shortages, he claimed.

The official added that while Kim has been calling for the bolstering of its agriculture and light industries, funds earmarked for these sectors grew at a slower pace than the overall growth of the budget.

The 2013 budget grew 5.9 percent from the year before, but funds for the light industry and farming sectors gained 5.1 percent. Defense spending on the other hand gained 16 percent on-year.

The latest data showed that consumer prices have generally been moving up since last year, potentially putting a greater burden on many people whose salaries have not changed in years, the official said.

Read the full story here:
N.K. economy remains unchanged under new leader: data
Yonhap
2013-4-12

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DPRK – China trade in 2011

Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013

According to Bloomberg:

North Korea’s trade with China expanded more than 60 percent to $5.63 billion in 2011 […]

Commerce with China accounted for 70.1 percent of the North’s total $8 billion trade in 2011, up from 57 percent in the previous year, South Korea’s national statistics office, Statistics Korea, said in its annual report today in Seoul. North Korea does not report economic data. Inter-Korean trade amounted to about $1.71 billion in the same year.

Excluding a dip in 2009, trade between the two countries has increased every year since the start of 2000, when the statistics bureau started releasing estimates. Data for 2012 will be released around the end of next year.

North Korea’s economy expanded 0.8 percent in 2011 and gross national income per capita was 1.33 million won ($1,239), nearly one nineteenth that of South Korea’s 25 million won, according to the Bank of Korea. South Korea’s total nominal gross national income was 38.2 times that of the North’s 32.44 trillion won.

The regime imported 3.8 million barrels of crude oil for 2011. Power generation capacity was 6.9 million kilowatts, less than one-10th that of South Korea. Steel production was 1.23 million tons and production of chemical fertilizer production was 471,000 tons.

North Korea’s population rose to 24.3 million in 2011 from 24.2 million the previous year — about half of South Korea’s. Population estimates were based on North Korea’s 1993 and 2008 censuses.

The Los Angeles Times also reported on these findings.

Here is coverage in Business Insider.

The Statistics Korea page for North Korea can be found here.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s 2011 China Trade Grew More Than 60 Percent
Bloomberg
Sangwon Yoon
2013-1-2

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North Korea Lauds Its Economic Achievements One Year After Kim Jong Il’s Death

Friday, December 14th, 2012

Institute for Far Eastern Studies (IFES)
2012-12-14

In preparation for the first anniversary of Kim Jong Il’s death, North Korea is calling attention to its economic achievements.

North Korean media announced that workers in each production sector met the goals of this year to commemorate the death of Kim Jong Il.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on December 7, “To honor the oath of bloody tears made before our Dear Leader Kim Jong Il, with burning hopes to charge ahead to meet the annual People’s Economic Plan, industrial production output reached 100 percent and production of daily necessities reached 113.7 percent, as of December 5.”Specifically, the machinery industrial sector was said to have reached its annual production goal by 107 percent as of the end of November.

Rodong Sinmun, the mouthpiece of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), also mentioned that a product exhibition was held from December 3rd to 6th in the Pyongyang Department Store No. 1.

In addition, KCNA reported that many hydroelectric power plants across the nation have already exceeded the annual electricity production plan. The KCNA claimed that Sodusu power plant exceeded the annual goal by 120.3 percent, while the Hochon River power plant and Jangjin River power plant reached 107.6 and 109.3 percent, respectively.

North Korean media boasted its economic development and spoke of its economic revitalization strategy. In the KCNA commentary: “We have developed our own economic revitalization strategies for economic development and devotion for this goal is deepening with time.”

North Korea’s recent announcement and actual launch of the Kwangmyongsong-3 satellite is also claimed to be an essential process for North Korea’s economic development.

“Unha-3rocket carryingthe satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, was developed by North Korean scientists and engineers by its own technology, and it is a noble achievement for its scientific and technical advancement to realize the goal of economic revival,” stated Choson Sinbo, a Japan-based pro-North Korean newspaper.

Analysts see North Korea’s recent moves (that is, its stressing of economic achievements and the rocket/satellite launch) as Pyongyang’s effort to emphasize the Kim Jong Un regime’s intent to uphold the teachings of the late leader Kim Jong Il through strengthening the economy.

The year 2012 was propagated by North Korea to be the first year of its kangsong taeguk (“strong and prosperous nation”). North Korea is trying to prove to its people that, despite Kim Jong Il’s death, this effort is still continuing under the Kim Jong Un leadership.

In the December 7th article of the KCNA, annual evaluation was made of the various economic achievements. The article called the past year “a historical miracle of a new era,” and “first year of new centennial of juche.” It also stated that a “new historical miracle was created to mark the new era of strong Korea (Chosun) upholding the great teachings of General Kim Jong Il.”

The KCNA mentioned the ‘Day of the Sun’ celebrations and other various celebrations, WPK conference, Kim Jong Un’s onsite visits to military bases, completion of the Huichon Power Station, Pyongyang city park construction, and Moranbong band performances as major achievements of the year.

In addition, the new 12-year compulsory education policy, outstanding performance by North Korean athletes at the 2012 London Olympics (i.e., four gold and one bronze medal), and the commissioning of the new State Culture and SportsGuidance Commission were also mentioned as main accomplishments of the year.

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Cabinet meeting discusses economic performance

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

UPDATE (2012-11-1): The Institute for Far Eastern Studies issues a summary of the Cabinet meeting:

North Korean Cabinet Standing Committee Meeting Held, Results for Third Quarter People’s Economy Announced

North Korea announced the results of the people’s economy plan for the third quarter and named construction as its major accomplishment. In particular, many monumental edifices of the Songun era were built and recognized to have strengthened the material and technical foundation of its national economy.

The Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on October 22 that such economy achievement was reported at the extended meeting for the Cabinet Standing Committee.

According to the KCNA, evaluation of the major sectors of people’s economy was made at the Cabinet meeting, commending the construction of thousands of new factories and companies.

In particular, construction of various new buildings were introduced including the new National Gift Hall, along with Pyongyang Folk Village, Rungna People’s Pleasure Ground, Rungna Dolphinarium, Sunrise Restaurant, and other modern cultural and service facilities. In addition, new buildings were built in campuses of Kim Hyong Jik University of Education and Koryo Songgyungwan University as well as other monumental edifices and major light industry factories. Such constructions are attributed to the improvement of consumer goods production and accredited to be advancing the modernization of people’s economy.

Additionally at the meeting, power and coal production was reported to have improved and production for major industrial products such as air compressors, transformers, jack hammers, coal wagons, power cables, cement and salt were also specified to have increased, contributing to the development of local industries.

Specific cases from Changsong County and Hoeryong City were presented to emphasize the improvement of local industries. The industrial production volume was claimed to have exceeded by 107 percent for the local industrial development plan for the quarter and adding strength to the modernization process for the local industries.

In the agricultural sector, considerable damage was reported for the third quarter as the North experienced floods and typhoon but asserted repair efforts for the damages took place appropriately.

The national budget income plan for the third quarter was recorded at 109.6 percent while local budget income plan was explained to have exceeded by 113.4 percent.

Following the meeting, major tasks for the economy for the fourth quarter were discussed. They included elevating the cities and counties to serve as regional bases, early response system to repair damages caused by natural disasters, and preparation to promptly carry out the 12-year compulsory education plan.

The law for the 12-year compulsory general education was recently adopted by the cabinet at the Supreme People’s Assembly meeting on September 25.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-10-22): The world was watching the most recent Supreme Peoples’ Assembly meeting for announcements of changes to the DPRK’s economic policies. However, little of substance was publicly announced.

According to Yonhap, the DPRK also held a recent cabinet meeting–date unknown. A cabinet meeting is where we would expect more serious deliberation of economic policies taking place. According to the article, however, the meeting featured rather standard agenda items (as best I can tell):

North Korea has held a cabinet meeting to discuss the country’s economic issues, a Chinese state media said Monday, as the communist regime reportedly makes efforts to reform its sickly economy.

The People’s Daily reported on its Chinese-language Web site that North Korea’s cabinet members recently gathered to review the country’s third-quarter economic performance and discuss targets to be achieved in the fourth quarter.

The meeting was presided over by North Korean Prime Minister Choi Yong-rim, the report said, citing the cabinet’s mouthpiece “Democratic (North) Korea”.

The report did not disclose when the meeting was held.

In the third quarter, North Korea saw a substantial increase on-year in its output of electricity and coal, the report said.

It also boosted production of air compressors, transformers, mining machines, wire, cement and other industrial products in the July-September.

Accordingly, the local industry has achieved an output level 7 percent higher than its original plan, while local budget revenues were 13.4 percent higher than original estimates, the Chinese newspaper said.

The North Korean cabinet members shared the view that the fourth quarter will be an important period for the regime to achieve its annual economic target for this year.

In a bid to achieve this year’s target, the country will continue to focus on producing electricity and coal, the report said.

The cabinet also agreed to fully implement universal 12-year compulsory education, promulgated at the Supreme People’s Assembly last month.

Speculation has recently risen that the secretive regime will take legal steps to start economic reforms as new leader Kim Jong-un is seen to be seeking to consolidate his power partly through fixing the broken economy.

Last month, a seminar aimed at attracting foreign investment in North Korea was held in a Beijing hotel.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea holds cabinet meeting to discuss economy
Yonhap
Kim Young-gyo
2012-10-22

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Bank of Korea publishes 2011 DPRK economic estimates

Monday, July 23rd, 2012

A couple of weeks ago, the South Korean Central Bank, the Bank of Korea, published its estimate of the size and composition of the North Korean economy in 2011. You can read the finings (PDF) here. I have posted this and many other estimates of the North Korean economy on my “DPRK economic statistics page“.

Here is coverage of the report in Bloomberg/Business Week:

Gross domestic product in the communist nation increased 0.8 percent in 2011 after a 0.5 percent decline in 2010, according to an estimate published by the Bank of Korea in Seoul. The nation’s economy has contracted during four of the last six years, the bank’s data show.

“The manufacturing sector declined, but the agricultural industry enjoyed better weather and more use of fertilizer,” the Bank of Korea said in an e-mailed statement.

North Korea is projected to keep growing under the new leader as its economic ties with China and Russia develop.

“Mineral exports to China and dollars brought in by North Korean workers sent to China and Russia would have driven the country’s GDP growth,” said Koh Yu Hwan, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul. “North Korea is expected to be economically stronger under Kim Jong Un as it continues to increase transactions with its allies.”

Kim Jong Un has waged a nationwide campaign to “bring about a turn in agriculture” and increase crop yields, according to a June 7 report carried by the official Korean Central News Agency. North Korea’s agriculture and fisheries sector expanded 5.3 percent in 2011 while manufacturing fell 3 percent, according to the BOK report.

North Korea’s nominal GDP totaled 32 trillion won ($28 billion) in 2011, compared with South Korea’s 1,237 trillion won, the BOK said. North Korea’s per capita income was 1.33 million won while South Korea’s was 25 million won, according to its estimates.

After adjusting for inflation, North Korea’s economy remained smaller at the end of 2011 than it had been in 2008, according to the Bank of Korea.

Here is more from Strategy Page:

The North Korean economy is undergoing changes. In fact, last year there was actually some growth, with GDP increasing .8 percent, versus a .5 percent decline in 2010. The North Korea GDP (about $28 billion, compared to $1,100 billion for South Korea). Thus even with a larger population, the average South Korean has 20 times more income as their northern counterparts. Moreover, income distribution is quite different in the north, where about two-thirds of the population is very poor and very hungry. The other third contains the well-fed ruling elite (whose lavish country estates can be seen via commercial satellite photos) and their supporters (secret police, military officers, bureaucrats) plus the semi-legal merchant class that has been allowed to develop over the last six years to avoid total economic collapse.
The economic decline in 2010, was the result of agricultural (floods) and industrial (massive power shortages) failure. But China came to the rescue by offering to set up mining operations in North Korea and buy billions of dollars-worth of minerals each year. China rebuilt railroads to handle the increased traffic from the remote North Korean mines. In addition, China offered legal jobs for North Koreans in China. The only catch was that the North Korean government took most of the pay. Similar deals have long been used with Russia but China offered far more jobs under more comfortable conditions. Competition for these jobs is fierce in North Korea and the government selects those deemed least likely to run away.

Last year North Korea bought more fertilizer for farmers and the weather was pretty good. That, plus the growing income from Chinese run mines and North Korean workers in China made up for the continuing declines in manufacturing. A good year on the farm is a big deal in North Korea, where farming and fishing are 23 percent of the economy (compared to under three percent in the south). But this year all of Korea is suffering from a record-breaking drought. This is hurting the north a lot more than the south. Although the monsoon (jangma) rains recenly arrived, a month late, the damage was already done in the north. Three months of very hot and very dry weather has seriously damaged crops. The rains will save some of them but at least a fifth of this year’s crops will be lost.

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Noland on the DPRK economy

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

Marcus Noland writes for the East-West Centre:

With global attention focused on North Korea’s failed rocket launch today, it’s worth also taking a look at the other claim the Pyongyang regime has long made for the imminent April 15 birth centennial of its founding leader, Kim Il-sung: emergence into economic prosperity.

Originally, the regime had declared that the country would emerge as “a strong and prosperous nation” during this time, but with that aspiration far from attainment, the goal has been relaxed recently to marking the country’s “passage through the gate” to prosperity. In reality, the North Korean economy today is characterized by macroeconomic instability, widening inequality and growing corruption.

No one (including the North Korean government) knows with any true confidence the size or growth rate of the country’s economy, but the consensus among outside observers is that per capita income today is lower than it was 20 years ago, and by some reckonings is only now re-attaining the level it first achieved in the 1970s.

Price data indicate that since a disastrous currency reform in November 2009, inflation, including for basic goods such as rice and coal, has been running at well over 100 percent a year. The black market value of the currency has been falling at a similar rate, meaning that those with access to foreign exchange are insulated from the ravages of inflation while those reliant on the local currency have seen their buying power dwindle. Unlike in the past, when grain prices fell after the harvest – sometimes by quite substantial amounts – prices have continued to rise this year. Analyses by both the U.S. government and international groups indicate that there is not enough food to go around, and some families are going without.

Help was supposed to be on the way in the form of a resumption of U.S. aid, but the unraveling of the “Leap Day” food-for-weapons deal in the wake of North Korea’s announcement of its rocket launch means that conditions for the North’s chronically food-insecure population may not improve.

This picture stands in sharp contrast to numerous anecdotal reports of improved living standards, abundant cell phones, and even traffic jams in Pyongyang, though it is consistent with the less numerous reports of grim conditions in provincial cities. My colleague Stephan Haggard has dubbed this phenomenon “Pyongyang illusion” and believes that it may well go beyond typically observed urban- or capital-bias in governance, and represents an attempt by an insecure regime to forestall any Tahrir Square type activity in the capital city.

Macroeconomic imbalances and shortages have exacerbated the country’s problems with corruption, already assessed by Transparency International as the worst in the world. The situation not only represents a drag on growth, but could impair the regime’s capacity to govern, as the parochial interests of corrupt officials diverge from the policy preferences of Pyongyang. In the wake of the December death of leader Kim Jong-il, the state has responded with heightened control measures, including purging the security units who were supposed to pursue corrupt officials but who had evidently themselves been corrupted. But there are limits to the effectiveness of repression when the underlying problems remain unresolved.

In short, the country is beset with macro instability, deepening inequality, rising corruption, and a political leadership that appears to lack the vision or capacity to respond. Some current policies have allegedly been ascribed to Kim Jong-il’s “dying wish,” and it would not be surprising if the regime uses this rationale for some time. But at some point Kim Jong-un and the new leadership will have to take ownership of policy. That transition could well begin on the centennial of his revered grandfather’s birth.

Read the full article here:
Behind North Korea’s rocket launch, economic turmoil
East-West Centre
Marcus Noland
2012-4-12

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Noland on DPRK statistics

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

Marcus Noland wrote a fantastic primer in Foreign Policy on North Korean statistics. Most of the article can be found below:

Last month, the South Korean news agency Yonhap ran a story about a report from a major South Korean think tank stating that North Korea’s GDP grew 4.7 percent in 2011. That think tank, the Hyundai Research Institute, used a combination of United Nations infant mortality data for 198 countries over the 2000-2008 period and North Korean crop data to estimate annual North Korean per capita income. While infant mortality and food availability correlate with income, one cannot meaningfully estimate year-to-year income changes with these two pieces of information alone.

(more…)

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DPRK per capita GDP grows 4.7% in 2011

Sunday, February 26th, 2012

UPDATE 2: Here is a translation of part of the paper:

2011 North Korea GDP per Capita 720 dollars

HRI Speculation Model of North Korea GDP: Hyndai Research Institute developed ‘HRI North Korea GDP Speculation Model’ to speculate North Korea’s GDP per Capita using the ‘Child Mortality Rate Report’ of 2011 August. In order to enhance the explicability of the original ‘HRI North Korea GDP Speculation Model’, in this report, the model has been modified adding annual agricultural production rate into consideration.

Speculating 2011 North Korea‘s GDP per Capita: According to the calculations of the modified ‘HRI North Korea GDP speculation model’, North Korea’s GDP per capita of 2011 was 720 dollars, 32 dollars increased from the previous year’s 688 dollars. North Korea’s GDP per capita is less than 3% that of South Korea which is $23,749. Even compared to other Communist nations such as China($5,194), Laos($1,204), Vietnam(1,362), North Korea’s economy is significantly deficient. Nations holding similar average income with North Korea is Bangladesh($690) and Nepal($644) of Asia, and Zimbabwe($735) of Africa.

Background on 2011 North Korean Economy’s growth

Domestic background: North Korean Economy is analyzed to have experienced a concentrated growth due to government’s planning and showering of its resources. According to FAO(Food and Agriculture Organization), North Korea’s agricultural production total has increased 7.2% from 4420 thousand tons in 2011 to 4740 thousand tons in 2012. Also, North Korean government focused their resources on food preservation, building 100 thousand households, and resolving electricity problem.

International Background: Internationally, DPRK-China trade expansion, Gawesung Factory, International Society’s aids were the three main backgrounds. DPRK-China trade total experienced a steep increase of 62.4% from 34.7 billion dollars in 2010 to 56.3 billion dollars in 2011. Gawesung Factory’s trade was 17 billon dollars which is a 17.7 % increase from 2010’s 14.4 billion dollars. International Society’s aid towards DPRK spiked the highest of 9, 7710 thousand dollars since 2007, which is more than three times that of 2, 1780 dollars from the pervious year.

UPDATE 1 (2012-3-13): Marcus Noland weighs in on the report’s findings here.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-2-26): According to Yonhap:

North Korea’s per-capita gross domestic product probably expanded more than 4 percent in 2011 from a year earlier on an improved grain harvest and intensified state efforts, a report said Sunday.

The North’s per-capita GDP for last year is estimated at US$720, up 4.7 percent from $688 a year earlier, Hyundai Research Institute said in the report based on the communist country’s infant mortality rate and grain production.

The North’s 2011 per-capita GDP amounts to a mere 3 percent of that for archrival South Korea.

“The increase stemmed from better grain crops,” the think tank said. “Pyongyang also stepped up its efforts to meet its goal of building a strong and prosperous nation in 2012.”

According to data by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization, North Korea’s grain production reached 4.74 million tons last year, up 7.2 percent from a year earlier.

Other positive factors were North Korea’s expanded trade with China, its staunchest ally and largest benefactor, the existence of an inter-Korean industrial complex in the border city of Kaesong and aid from the international community, according to the report.

Pyongyang’s trade with China surged 62.4 percent on-year to $5.63 billion last year, the report said.

I have been unable to locate an original copy of this report.  If you have a copy please send it to me.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s per-capita GDP grows 4.7 pct in 2011: report
Yonhap
2012-2-26

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KCNA: 20-day industrial output value increases over Jan 2011

Friday, January 27th, 2012

According to KCNA (2012-1-25):

The gross industrial output value grew 1.2 times for twenty days of January this year as against the same period last year.

This is the result of the high-pitched drive waged by all the workers of the country since the first day of this year after receiving with excitement the joint calls of the Central Committee and the Central Military Commission of the Workers’ Party of Korea, the joint New Year editorial for this year and the letter of the working people in South Hamgyong Province.

In the period, the Ministry of Light Industry increased the production 1.4 times and the Ministry of Food and Daily Necessities sharply boosted the production.

Thermal and hydropower stations have increased the ratio of operating the generating equipment.

Much effort is being concentrated on supplying coal to the thermal power plants and chemical and metal plants and developing more coal beds.

The Ministry of Coal Industry produced 12,000 more tons of coal than planned for the 20 days.

Iron mills and steelworks also increased the production.

The freight transport volume increased by 12 percent from the same period last year.

Innovations were made in the production of vinalon and fertilizer by the industrial establishments in the field of chemical industry and in the production of custom built equipment and mining machines by the industrial enterprises of the field of machine industry.

The forestry stations and pit wood stations increased the timber production.

Progress has been reported on a daily basis from the important projects including the building of apartments in Mansudae areas and the Paektusan Songun Youth Power Station.

For the uninitiated, this is about as close as the DPRK gets to releasing economic statistics. Note there are no base numbers–only [some] % increases. Also, despite the measure being officially named “output value”, it is really just a claim of increased physical production.  There is no value (prices) or mention of “services” included in these measures.

Unfortunately without more solid numbers, and the proclivity to ascribe productivity gains to effective propaganda, these reports cannot be taken seriously.

Although we all talk about the DPRK’s GDP and per capita income as if the numbers are solid, the reality is quite the opposite.  In addition to the general lack of information, there are all sorts of methodological problems with assessing the value of the DPRK’s economy.  Here are some helpful sources if you want to learn more:

1. DPRK Economic Statistics Report

2. G. Warren Nutter papers:

– (JSTOR) “Soviet Industrial Growth”, Source: Science, New Series, Vol. 130, No. 3370 (Jul. 31, 1959), pp. 252-255

-(JSTOR) “Industrial Growth in the Soviet Union”, The American Economic Review , Vol. 48, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Seventieth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (May, 1958), pp. 398-411

-(JSTOR) Some Observations on Soviet Industrial Growth”, The American Economic Review , Vol. 47, No. 2, Papers and Proceedings of the Sixty-eighth Annual Meeting of the American Economic Association (May, 1957), pp. 618-630

3. The North Korean Economy by Nicholas Eberstadt

4. Assessing the economic performance of North Korea, 1954–1989: Estimates and growth accounting analysis

5. Bank of Korea’s assessment fo the DPRK economy in 2010.

6. My North Korean Economic Statistics Page

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North Korean trade and aid statistics update

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

According to Business Week:

North Korea’s trade expanded more than 20 percent in 2010 to $6.1 billion on growing business with China even as the economy shrank for a second year, South Korea’s national statistics office said.

Trade volume increased 22.3 percent in 2010 after a 10.5 percent decline in 2009, Statistics Korea said in its annual report today in Seoul. Commerce with China accounted for 57 percent, or $3.5 billion, of North Korea’s foreign trade, up from 53 percent in the previous year. The totalitarian state doesn’t report economic statistics.

North Korea’s gross domestic product contracted 0.5 percent to 30 trillion won ($26.1 billion) in 2010, compared with South Korea’s 1,173 trillion won, the Bank of Korea said in November. Per capita income was 1.24 million won compared with South Korea’s 24 million won.

Kim Jong Un took over as leader of North Korea in December after the death of his father, Kim Jong Il. The regime has relied on economic handouts since the mid-1990s and an estimated 2 million people have died from famine, according to South Korea’s central bank. The United Nations and the U.S. increased sanctions on the country aimed at curtailing its nuclear weapons program after 2010 attacks that killed 50 South Koreans.

Chinese aid to the stricken country will probably increase as the government in Beijing seeks to avoid a flood of refugees from crossing the 880-mile (1,416 kilometer) border it shares with North Korea, analyst Dong Yong Sueng said. While food shortages have contributed to rising defections, North Korea has shown no willingness to ease sanctions by abandoning its nuclear weapons program.

Economic Dependence

“North Korea’s economic dependence on China will inevitably increase for the time being unless there’s some resolution to the nuclear situation,” said Dong, a senior fellow at the Samsung Economic Research Institute in Seoul. “China wants a stable North Korean regime and succession to avoid a potential influx of refugees.”

North Korea had a shortfall of as much as 700,000 metric tons of food last year, which could affect a quarter of the population, according to the United Nations Food & Agriculture Organization. China provides almost 90 percent of energy imports and 45 percent of the country’s food, according to a 2009 report from the New York-based Council on Foreign Relations.

China is preparing to consent to a North Korean request to provide 1 million tons of food in time for the April 5 anniversary of the birth of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, Japan’s Fuji Television said on its website. The report didn’t say where it obtained the information.

Providing Assistance

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Liu Weimin today told reporters in Beijing that while he wasn’t aware of the report, “we have always been providing assistance to the DPRK within our capacity which we think will be conducive to the stability and development of the country.” DPRK is an acronym of North Korea’s formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Kim’s military had over one million soldiers in active duty and 7.7 million reserve troops as of November 2010, today’s report said, citing South Korean Defense Ministry figures. The North operates under a military-first policy and has remained on combat alert since the Korean War ended in 1953 with a truce and not a peace treaty.

North Korea’s population rose to 24.2 million in 2010 from 24.1 million in 2009, about half of South Korea. Inter-Korean trade rose 13.9 percent from a year earlier to $1.9 billion last year, Statistics Korea said.

South Korea plans to set up a fund to raise as much as 55 trillion won to pay for eventual reunification with North Korea, Unification Minister Yu Woo Ik said in an interview with Bloomberg last October.

Read Sangwon Yoon’s full article in Business Week here.

The data in this article was pulled from a recent publication by Statistics Korea (Korean, English). You can read a press release of the publication here (in Korean). You can read the press release in English here (via Google Translate). It is not very good, so if a reader would care to take the time to translate this article, I would appreciate it. You can also download the press release as a .hwp file at the bottom of the article (download a .hwp reader here).

Statistics Korea did set up a North Korea Statistics page which you can see here. Unfortunately, it is only in Korean! I have, however, added it as a link on my North Korean Economic Statistics page.

UPDATE 1: The Daily NK also covered this story with the following report:

The income gap between North and South Korea is becoming ever wider, according to statistics released yesterday by Statistics Korea showing that South Korea’s per capita Gross National Income (GNI) in 2010 was $27,592, 19.3 times that of North Korea at $1,074. Last year the gap was 18.4 times.

In the (legal) foreign trade sector, the two Koreas also lived very differently. South Korea’s 2012 trading volume was $891.6 billion, 212.3 times North Korea’s $4.2 billion. North Korea’s exports were worth just $15 billion, its imports $27 billion.

As expected, North Korea’s trade reliance on China was highly significant (56.9%), partly because as strained inter-Korean relations started to bite, so inter-Korean trade declined as well: from 33.0% in 2009 to 31.4% in 2010.

Meanwhile, 61.0% of adults in South Korea are economically active, a number which rises to 70.2% in North Korea. Conversely, there are 3,134,000 college students in South Korea, but only 510,000 in North Korea.

In the energy industry sector in 2010, South Korea imported 872,415,000 barrels of crude oil, 226.4 times more than North Korea’s 3,854,000. The electricity generating capacity of South Korea is 10.9 times more than that of North Korea, too, though the generated amount was actually around 20 times bigger, the statistics allege.

Automobile production was no better; in South Korea (4,272,000), 1,068 times more than North Korea (4,000). Steel production in South Korea was 46.1 times that of North Korea, cement was 7.6 times more, and fertilizer 6.1 times.

UPDATE 2: The Hankyoreh adds some critiques of the data:

“With inter-Korean relations so tense, it is no longer possible for us to do the kind of North Korean grain production estimates that were possible under the previous administration,” a government official explained on Tuesday.

2010 production figures for rice, corn, barley, beans, and other major grains were left blank in a Statistics Korea report on major statistical indicators in North Korea. The numbers were included in statistical data released in 2008, 2009, and other years.

A Statistics Korea official said, “We made several requests to the organization in charge, but they didn’t provide materials, so we couldn’t print them.” The Rural Development Administration is responsible for investigating North Korean grain production. Early every year, it has estimated and released North Korean grain production figures for the previous year. Since 2011, however, it has failed to release figures.

A government official explained, “Since inter-Korean relations were decent during the previous administration, it was possible to go to the North and get samples to use as a basis for estimates.”

“With inter-Korean exchange all but completely halted under the current administration, the basis for releasing estimates has disappeared,” the official added.

Some observers said the decision was motivated by concerns that South Korean public support for food aid to North Korea could grow if low figures are presented. The argument is that there is no reason the kind of grain production estimates that were possible in 2008 and 2009, while the Lee administration was in office, would not be so for 2010 alone. Observers are also expressing bafflement at the fact that only agricultural products were omitted from estimates at a time when even the number of cars is being estimated in the area of industrial products.

Kim Yong-hyun, a professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University, said, “Recently, food aid negotiations have been taking place between North Korea and the US, and I suspect the government may have decided not to announce [the estimates] because it was too concerned about public sentiment in South Korea.”

The North Korea figures released Tuesday also showed South Korea‘s per capita gross national income of $20,759 to be 19.3 times North Korea’s $174 for 2010.

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An affiliate of 38 North