Archive for the ‘Demographics’ Category

DPRK elderly population to double in next 40 years

Thursday, October 4th, 2012

According to the Daily NK:

The UN believes that North Korea’s elderly population will double in the next 40 years, casting an economic shadow over the country’s future.

The United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) revealed over the weekend that 13% of the population of the country, approximately 3.32 million, is currently over 60, but that it believes this will double to 23% of the population, 6.12 million, by 2050.

Meanwhile, the number of people over 80 will increase by more than 2.5 times, UNFPA believes.

At the same time, UNICEF announced last April that North Korea’s young population will greatly reduce, with just 3 million people in their teens by 2050, a reduction of 24% over today’s number.

Northeast Asia has the fastest-aging population in the world; more than 30% of the world’s population over 65 is said to be living in the Northeast Asian region encompassing South Korea, North Korea, China, Japan and Russia.

You can read and analyze the DPRK census data here and here.

Read the full story here:
North Korea’s Population Ageing Fast
Daily NK
Kim Tae-hong


Inter-Korean visits drop 7% in 2012

Tuesday, July 10th, 2012

According to Yonhap:

The total number of South and North Koreans visiting each other’s country fell nearly seven percent in the first five months of 2012 from a year earlier, the Seoul government said Tuesday, as tensions persist over the North’s deadly attacks on the South in recent years.

A total of 47,432 South Koreans visited North Korea in the January-May period, while no North Koreans visited the South, according to data from the Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs. The figure is down 6.9 percent from the same period last year, when the number of inter-Korean visits reached 50,925, including 13 North Koreans who visited the South.

Read the full story here:
Inter-Korean visits drop 7 pct this year


1 in 10 North Korean babies premature

Friday, May 4th, 2012

According to the Daily NK:

One out of every ten new babies born in North Korea is born premature, according to new World Health Organization (WHO) data.

According to the WHO-produced ‘Born too Soon: The Global Action Report on Preterm Birth’, which was released by the UN body on the 2nd, among 347,600 babies born in North Korea in 2010, fully 37,300 were preterm, or roughly 10.7%. North Korea ranked 80th out of 184 countries surveyed on this measure.

Complications linked to preterm birth caused the death of 2,700 babies, 7% (2,700) of the total, placing North Korea 55th in the world.

You can download the full UN report here.

Read the full story here:
1 in 10 North Korean Babies Born Premature
Daily NK
Hwang Chang Hyun


Demographic Changes in North Korea (1993-2008)

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Population and Development Review
March 2012
Thomas Spoorenberg and Daniel Schwekendiek

Using the 1993 and 2008 national population and housing census data, this article uses population projection to reconstruct the population trends of North Korea over the 15 intercensal years. The article is structured as follows: a brief history of North Korea over the last 60 years is provided. The 1993 and 2008 census data—population by age and sex, fertility, and mortality indicators—are described and critically assessed. From this censusbased demographic evidence and other existing demographic estimates, the population dynamics of the country is reconstructed prospectively from 1993 to 2008 through population projections testing the plausibility of different population trends. Finally, counterfactual population projections are run in order to estimate (1) the demographic impact of the famine in the 1990s and (2) the human cost of the deteriorating living conditions in North Korea that were widely reported during the 1990s and 2000s.


Official Data Shed New Light on Pyongyang Population

Saturday, October 22nd, 2011

According to the Choson Ilbo:

The Weekly Chosun has obtained detailed official records of some 2 million adult residents of the North Korean capital Pyongyang from a source in the North Korea-China border area. The data, which contains the names, date of birth and home addresses of 2,108,032 Pyongyang residents, was compiled by the North’s State Security Department in 2005.

The data does not include children up to age of 17 or an estimated 10,000 members of the elite including relatives of leader Kim Jong-il, or of soldiers stationed in Pyongyang from provincial areas, according to the source.

But it does include people in four districts that were excluded from the Pyongyang administrative area last year. According to official data published by South Korea’s Unification ministry based on the North’s Central Yearbook in February, Pyongyang’s population shrank by about 500,000 as a result of administrative restructuring. But the list shows only about 197,000 adults living in those four districts in 2005.

The difference of 300,000 is too big to make sense, even if the omitted child population is taken into consideration.

The most remarkable aspect of the data is the shortage of men. There are a mere 870,000 men on the list compared to 1.22 million women.

What caused the imbalance is not known but it is possible that many men are soldiers and therefore not counted. Another guess is that there are more women in the capital because they are shipped there for mass rallies.

A former senior North Korean official who defected to the South in 2007, said, “More than six out of every 10 Pyongyang residents are female. It’s mostly the elite who are allowed to live in Pyongyang. A lot of men have been moved out to the suburbs, but the women are mobilized for mass events, which explains the gender imbalance.”

Based on analysis of the records, the average marriage age is 27 years old. More than 80 percent of adults in Pyongyang were registered as married, compared to South Korea, where single households are on the rise. Some 410,000 or 20 percent of the total population in Pyongyang were unmarried and under 27 years old. Divorcees accounted for about 1 percent of the total population with 21,000, although North Korean defectors say divorce and remarriage rates there are gradually increasing.

About 830,000 or more than one-third are party members — a very high ratio considering that the total number of party members across North Korea is about 2 million.

The remaining 1.28 million seem to be either prospective members or family of members. They are said to be working mainly in party-affiliated organizations.

A defector from Pyongyang told the Weekly Chosun, “It’s hard for non-party members to live in Pyongyang. Many people are in the process of becoming party members, even if they haven’t been admitted yet. They consider it an honor. So really most people in Pyongyang are in the party.”

According to the data, there are 124 registered foreign nationals in Pyongyang from 15 countries including the U.S., Japan, China, the former Soviet Union or Russia, the Czech Republic, Canada, France, and Lebanon. Japanese citizens top the list with 86, but they are likely to be ethnic Koreans. About one person from every European country lives in Pyongyang.

Read the full story here:
Official Data Shed New Light on Pyongyang Population
Choson Ilbo


CIA updates DPRK World Factbook statistics

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

According to Yonhap:

The life expectancy of an average North Korean stands at 68.9, placing it 149th among 222 countries checked, a U.S. media report said Saturday.

According to Voice of America (VOA), which cited the latest findings by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), the typical North Korean male born this year can expect to live 65 years, while the average female is expected to live 72.9 years.

The numbers are an estimation of how long babies who are born this year will live.

The VOA said that the original data did not elaborate on why there was a jump in the life expectancy of over four years. Last year, the CIA claimed North Korea’s life expectancy stood at 64.13 years.

The latest findings, meanwhile, said that as of July, there were over 24.45 million people in North Korea, with the U.S. Census Bureau predicting the population may grow by around 10 percent to 26.86 million by 2050.

The CIA periodically updates the data on its World Factbook (and changes the URLs), but because historical data is deleted and  the methodology for determining the findings is not publicly known, it is hard to know where exactly the numbers come from, why they have changed, or what it all means. With any change in data we could be looking at a new trend or we could be seeing corrections in previously flawed data.

The World Factbook’s “Guide to Country Comparisons” was the source for the statistics in this story.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s life expectancy ranks 149th in the world: report


Millions under threat as hunger stalks North Korea, says visitor

Thursday, August 4th, 2011

By Michael Rank

North Korea’s orphanages are full of malnourished children and food shortages in the isolated nation look set to get much worse, said a recent visitor who knows the country well.

Former member of the European Parliament Glyn Ford said shortages of food were affecting “tens of thousands of children, not just orphans, and there may be millions of people under threat of malnutrition” in North Korea.

Ford visited two orphanages in Hamhŭng (Hamheung), the country’s second largest city, where he was shown children who were extremely thin and clearly malnourished, and this had been confirmed by a European Union aid team. Each orphanage had about 300 children.

Ford said he had been encouraged by an EU pledge last month to provide emergency food aid worth 10 million euros ($14.3 million) to more than half a million people at risk of dying from serious malnutrition in North Korea, and that France and Germany had since added to this, making the assistance worth 14-16 million euros ($20-$22.8 million).

But at one of the orphanages he was told they had run out of EU food in June, and the children were suffering as a result.

The European Commission said the objective of the aid package was to lift around 650,000 people, mainly in northern and eastern provinces of the country, out of the hunger zone during the most difficult period of the worst year for food production in recent times. Food assistance will reach children under five who have already been hospitalised with severe acute malnutrition. Children in residential care will also be fed, as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women, hospital patients and the elderly.

An EU mission found in June that state-distributed food rations, upon which two thirds of the North Korean population depend, had been severely cut in recent months from 400g of cereals per person per day in early April to 150g in June: less than 400kCal – a fifth of the daily average nutritional requirement and equivalent to a small bowl of rice.

Ford told NKEW in a telephone interview that while there were clear signs of widespread hunger there was no sign, so far at least, of mass starvation, as happened in the 1990s, when hundreds of thousands, possibly millions, of people died.

He also said that despite the food shortages there were also signs that economic reforms of recent years were having a strong impact, and that in all populated areas roads were lined with rows of private stalls. “These blue plastic stalls are everywhere,” Ford said, adding that they were giving rise to

“kiosk capitalists” who were bucking the traditional, Stalinist economic system.

“This is a society where there are rich North Koreans. There are new cars and expensive consumer items in the shops. There is an economic elite rather than a Party elite,” he added.

Ford also visited the Kaesong (Gaeseong) Industrial Complex just north of the Demilitarised Zone, which he said consisted of large areas of waste land where plans for expansion had come to nought due to increased tension between North and South Korea.

The complex looked “a little bit sad”, he said, and the optimism that prevailed when he last visited it two or three years had dissipated. He said the zone continued to employ about 45,000 North Koreans, little changed from his previous visit, and hopes that it would employ 400,000 by 2015 now seemed highly unrealistic. “It was new then but the shining glow has gone off a bit,” he said, adding, “I noticed the gaps between the factories more than the factories themselves.” (Ford cited a goal of 400,000 workers eventually employed in the zone, but in 2006 a target of 700,000 was mentioned on the BBC’s Newsnight programme).

The complex, in operation since 2004, has around 120 factories, all South Korean-run, processing food and assembling clothing and machinery for export to the South.

Ford also said it seemed likely that the North Korea would open an embassy to the EU in Brussels before long, with a reciprocal EU embassy in Pyongyang. Although Pyongyang and the EU established diplomatic relations in 2001, embassies have not been opened due to French resistance, as France and Estonia are the only EU countries that do not have full diplomatic ties with North Korea.

France has cited human rights violations in its refusal to open an embassy in North Korea, but it has recently softened its line and has announced plans to open a “cooperation bureau” in Pyongyang. Ford said North Korea had long wanted to set up an embassy in Brussels and this now finally seemed likely, possibly by the middle of next year.

Ford, a British Labour Party MEP until 2009, spent about 12 days in North Korea, returning last Saturday. He has almost certainly visited North Korea more often than any other western politician, having been almost 20 times over the last 15-16 years. He was a member of the European Parliament’s Korean Peninsula delegation and in 2008 has published a book, North Korea on the Brink: Struggle for Survival.

Addendum: In January 2009 Ford hosted the first ever delegation from the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) delegation to visit Britain, when he pressed them to agree to reopen the dialogue that was  broken off in 2005.


DPRK defection numbers / trends update

Wednesday, July 20th, 2011

(2011-7-14) The International Crisis Group published a report on DPRK defectors living in South Korea.  Here is the executive summary.  Here is the full report (PDF).  Below are some statistics that others might like to know for future reference (Footnotes can be found in the original document):

There were only 86 defectors from 1990 to 1994, and the numbers remained under 100 each year until 1999. North Korea’s deteriorating economy and a subsequent famine in the mid-1990s, along with an erosion of border controls that opened an escape route into China, began to push the numbers higher by 2000. In 2001, 583 North Koreans arrived in South Korea. The following year the figure nearly doubled to 1,138. By 2007, about 10,000 North Korean defectors had arrived in the South, and by December 2010, the number reached 20,360. The number is expected to remain steady at about 2,500-3,000 per year or even to increase, although slightly fewer defectors arrived in 2010 due to tightened restrictions in North Korea, including greater punishment for attempting to defect.

In 1998, only 12 per cent of the 947 defectors in the South were female. But they surpassed males in 2002, and in 2010 they accounted for 76 per cent of the 2,376 defectors who arrived in the South. By January 2011, the cumulative total of defectors nineteen years of age and younger was 3,174 – 15.4 per cent of all defectors in the South.

About 70 per cent of the defectors arriving recently have graduated from middle school or high school, about 9 per cent have graduated from junior colleges, and about 8 per cent are college graduates. About 50 per cent were unemployed or dependents before they left the North, and about 39 per cent were workers.

According to Pak Chŏn-ran [Park Jeon-ran], a specialist on defectors at Seoul National University’s Institute for Unification Studies, “the health status of defectors who left their families in the North is five times worse than that of defectors who escaped North Korea with relatives or friends”.107 She also found in a study that 20 per cent of ailments afflicting defectors were psychosomatic. The medical staff at a government reintegration centre reported that about 70 per cent of their patients exhibited symptoms of depression or other stress-related disorders.

In 2007, researchers from Seoul National University disclosed that in interviews conducted with over 200 defectors, 80 per cent indicated they had contracted at least one ailment since arriving in the South. In April of the same year, the Korea Institute for Health and Social Affairs released a study on the health of 6,500 defectors who had arrived in the South between 2000 and 2005. Some 1.8 per cent were infected with syphilis in 2004 and 2.1 per cent in 2005. About 20 per cent of 700 women aged twenty to 49 suffered from some type of gynaecological disorder.

The Korea Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (KCDC) reports that the average height and weight of defectors is much lower than their South Korean counterparts. The average North Korean male defector is 164.4cm tall and weighs 60.2kg, compared to the average South Korean man, who stands 171.4cm tall and weighs 72kg. The figures for North Korean female defectors and South Korean women are: 154.2cm and 158.4cm; 52.8kg and 57.1kg. The average teenage male defector’s height is 155.7cm, 13.5cm less than the average South Korean counterpart; the average weight is 47.3kg, 13.5kg less than that of the South Korean. The average heights and weights for teenage female defectors and South Korean teenage females are: 151.1cm and 159.4cm; 46.9kg and 52.3kg.

In January 2011, only 50 per cent of defectors were employed (10,248 of 20,539), and most of these were in unskilled manual labour jobs (7,901, or 77 per cent of those employed). Only 439 defectors (4 per cent) were working in skilled jobs, and 381 were working in administrative positions.

Those who do find work earn on average W1.27 million (about $1,170) per month, which is just above the minimum subsistence level for a family of three.

These levels of unemployment persist despite subsidies for employers who hire defectors; the government provides up to W500,000 of monthly salaries for the first year and up to W700,000 of monthly salaries for the second year.

Many defectors reach the South with the help of people known as brokers. The journey can cost anywhere from $2,500 to $15,000. Many brokers will defer payment until the government in Seoul has paid resettlement money. To prevent a developing business in bringing defectors to the South, in 2005 the government cut the payments from a W10 million (about $9,400) lump sum to W6 million (about $5,600) paid out over several years. This has left many defectors with considerable debts.

More posts on this topic below:



US Census forecast of DPRK population

Wednesday, July 13th, 2011

According to Yonhap:

North Korea is expected to become larger and older in 40 years with its population growing at a slower pace, data showed Tuesday.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, North Korea’s population is estimated to rise 10 percent by 2050 to 26.96 million from this year’s 24.45 million.

The census bureau also projected that South Korea’s population will decrease 11 percent from 48.75 million last year to 43.37 million in 2050.

North Korea’s population has been on a steady increase since 1995, when it totaled 22.11 million, and the trend is likely to continue into 2050, the bureau said.

The population growth rate, however, is forecast to dwindle from 0.5 percent this year to a negative growth of 0.1 percent in 40 years, the data showed.

The slower rate of population growth will bring down the North’s ranking worldwide in 2050 to 64th among 228 countries. It ranked 48th this year, according to the agency.

North Korea’s birthrate is forecast to drop to 1.7 in 2050 from 2.0 in 2011, while its life expectancy is estimated to increase to 78 in 2050 from this year’s 69, indicating North Korea will face an aging society.

The agency did not mention what exactly would attribute to such changes in the country’s demographics, but said on its Web site that the estimates were based on the census each country conducted while also taking into account political and social variables alongside specific factors such as natural disasters.

A separate U.N. report published last year found that North Korea’s population is to increase by 600,000 to 24.6 million in 2050.

Information on the DPRK’s last census can be found here.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea’s population expected to rise to 27 mln by 2050


DPRK defectors in the US

Wednesday, July 6th, 2011

According to KBS Global:

The Voice of America (VOA) said Wednesday that two North Korean defectors were granted refugee status and settled in the U.S. in June.

The VOA referenced a report by the U.S. State Department that said from October last year through June, a total of 21 North Koreans entered the U.S. as refugees.

The VOA reported that since the passage of the North Korean Human Rights Act in the U.S. in 2004, the number of North Korean refugees entering the U.S. has increased to 122.

Previous stories stories about DPRK emigration can be found here.