North Korea to conduct first national census in 14 years

Shim Sun-ah

North Korea will conduct its first national census in 14 years this fall with help from a U.N. agency, the Unification Ministry said Monday.

“South Korea signed a memorandum of understanding with the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) on Dec. 11 to finance part of the cost of the national census in North Korea,” the ministry said in a statement.

The project will be launched in October. A pilot census already began last year, according to the statement.

The project will cost around US$5.6 million, of which South Korea will provide $4 million, the ministry said, adding the remaining funds will come from the UNFPA’s own fund and donations from other countries. No complete census has taken place in North Korea since 1994 when the UNFPA helped the communist state conduct a national census. Pyongyang announced after the survey that its population was 21.21 million people as of 1993.

According to an almanac released Sunday by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency, North Korea’s population increased gradually to 23.6 million in 2004 despite the chronic economic plight of the isolated communist state.

The World Factbook released by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency last year put the North Korean population at 22.6 million in 2004.

“We decided to finance the census from the inter-Korean cooperation fund considering that the census will help us understand North Korea’s overall social situation and the lifestyle of the country’s people,” the statement said.

“The population data can also be used to establish comprehensive measures to deal with the North, including inter-Korean economic cooperation projects,” it added.


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