North Korea: A Dichotomized Picture Of Development


The nuclear and missile threat caused by North Korea has become increasingly imminent for countries all over the world, especially the United States. It is reported by the Economist that, Kim Jong Un, the leader of North Korea, would “surely and definitely tame the mentally deranged US dotard with fire.” At the same time, North Korea’s Foreign Minister showed its attempt to test a thermonuclear bomb over the Pacific. The United States reacted with a show of force off the east coast of North Korea by the strategic bombers, which resulted in the latter country’s warning of shooting them down next time.

North Korea is equipped with certain military capabilities and is able to challenge the U.S., to some degree. However, people living there can still be seen as the poorest in the world, since the country’s per capita Gross National Income is stable at ₩1.5 million (USD$1136; £874) annually, while the data of South Korea is over twenty times that. What’s more, in accordance with BBC, the income inequality between different groups of citizens is also huge. The haves, staying in the nation’s capital, Pyongyang, are likely to own popular, luxury items similar to the rest of the world. To illustrate, they typically carry mobile phones and laptops every day. However, the have-nots, the majority of North Korea’s people, live outside of the Pyongyang city and do not have access to these kinds of technology products.

On the other hand, North Korea has scant resources apart from plutonium and uranium, and it does not have exact chances and opportunities to develop its agricultural sector. Therefore, it has to import fuel and food to sustain the progress of the whole country. A lack of food has become a severe and important issue in North Korea. According to several aid agencies, around two million people there have died from acute food shortages resulted from natural disasters and economic mismanagement, since the mid-1990s.

What’s worse, the state has been accused of human rights abuses for a long time. From what has been stated by the Washington Post, about 100,000 civilians of South Korea have been abducted by North Korea since the Korean War. Also, it is estimated by Amnesty International that thousands of citizens in North Korea are held in detention facilities and can be tortured and executed from time to time. In this situation, defectors tend to escape such persecution at risk of losing their lives.

As can be seen, the economic situation and living conditions are not that positive within this nation. Investopedia has commented on these by saying the regime gives top priority to making Korea a defence economy, which has overshadowed the country’s problems of food access, living standards, as well as human rights; “North Korea lives in isolation and hardship with its economy presenting a dichotomized picture with nuclear armament on one side and starvation (but for the aid) on the other.” Meanwhile, with its own focus on nuclear weapons, the country may be faced with more and more sanctions imposed by the U.S. and other nations around the world. And this can make the whole state underdeveloped and much more disadvantaged.

In fact, to tackle these development issues should be of the utmost importance for this nation to get out of the trap of poor and adverse circumstances. It is also a chance to call for prosperity and peace, whether that be within the country itself or outside of it. Although these cannot be achieved in a short period of time, through the efforts of political entities in the neighbouring region and the rest of world, these dreams may be realized one day in the future.