Demographics of North Korea

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This article is about the demographic features of the population of North Korea, including population density, ethnicity, education level, health of the populace, economic status, religious affiliations and other aspects of the population.

The demographics of North Korea are difficult to assess due to the limited amount of data available from the country. The historical data is derived from the work done by United States scholar Nicholas Eberstadt and demographer Judith Banister in 1992.

Against the background of ethnic homogeneity, significant regional differences exist. However, regional cultural differences, like regional dialects, have been breaking down under the influence of centralized education, nationwide media, and the several decades of population movement since the Korean War.

It is technically possible to be a North Korean citizen without being an ethnic Korean - James Dresnok, a European American, acquired North Korean citizenship in 1972[1]- but immigration is almost unheard of, and ethnic minorities are negligible.


History of reporting demographics

Until the release of official data in 1989, the 1963 edition of the North Korea Central Yearbook was the last official publication to disclose population figures. After 1963 demographers used varying methods to estimate the population. They either totaled the number of delegates elected to the Supreme People's Assembly (each delegate representing 50,000 people before 1962 and 30,000 people afterward) or relied on official statements that a certain number of persons, or percentage of the population, was engaged in a particular activity. Thus, on the basis of remarks made by President Kim Il Sung in 1977 concerning school attendance, the population that year was calculated at 17.2 million persons. During the 1980s, health statistics, including life expectancy and causes of mortality, were gradually made available to the outside world.

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