North Korea Industry

Heavy industry dominates in North Korea, although lighter industry has grown faster in recent years. Machines have a prominent role, but the mining and energy sectors are also important.

The machine industry not only serves the military, but also manufactures other transport equipment and products for agriculture.

Textile manufacturing, which dominates the lighter industry, grew rapidly in the late 1900s but has since stagnated. Despite this, textiles have continued to be important for exports and provided foreign currency.

Neglected maintenance and outdated production methods as well as lack of raw materials, fuel, capital and spare parts pose problems for all industries.

The Kaesong industrial zone was opened in 2004 next to the demilitarized zone as a joint project with South Korea. There were over 120 South Korean companies employing over 50,000 North Koreans. What was manufactured was sold in South Korea. But in early 2016, Kaesong was shut down after South Korea withdrew from the cooperation and sent home its workers as a result of North Korea’s nuclear test.

The industrial sector was also hit hard by the sanctions against exports of coal and other minerals introduced by the UN after the country conducted its fourth nuclear test in September 2016.

North Korea Flag and Map



North Korea interrupts communication with South Korea

June 9

Pyongyang stops the daily phone calls made with Seoul through a special joint office in the North Korean border city of Kaesong, which was set up by the countries in 2018 to manage the contacts. A “hotline” between the leaders of both countries and all military communications is also interrupted. The reason for Pyongyang’s actions is said to be balloons with regime-critical leaflets sent across the border from South Korea. But relations between the countries have cooled down because of the locked state of the talks between North Korea and the United States.


Several short-range robots fired

April 14

According to South Korea’s military, North Korea has once again tested several robots, probably cruise missiles over the sea. Cruise robots are difficult to detect as they travel at low altitude.

Kim Jong-Un is switching over in the country’s leadership

April 13

Kim Jong-Un replaces five of the thirteen members of the country’s highest governing body, the State Business Commission, where he chairs himself. Among other things, Ri Son-Gwon, who was appointed new Foreign Minister earlier this year, will take the place of the Commission instead of the representative Ri Yong-Ho. Ri Son-Gwon is also appointed alternate member of the Politburo together with Kim Jong-Un’s sister Kim Yo-Jong. She has previously been a member of the Politburo. The appointment is seen by judges as a sign that Kim Yo-Jongs has had more to say about politics. The decision on the furnishings is made by the country’s “parliament”, the Supreme People’s Assembly.

“No cases of covid-19”

April 3

North Korea’s management claims that there are no cases of the covid-19 disease caused by the new coronavirus. Government officials state that residents of the country have been tested to see if they are infected. The fact that the country has avoided suffering so far is due to the early closure of the border with China early, at the end of January, where the virus first began to spread in the city of Wuhan. In addition, several thousand North Koreans have been quarantined and foreigners have not been allowed into the country since February. In addition, schools and universities are closed. But experts believe that the information that there are no coronary cases is incorrect. According to them, there are reports of people infected. Assessors have warned that North Korea could be severely affected if the coronavirus takes hold in the country.


European countries in the Security Council condemn robot testing

6 March

The European member countries of the UN Security Council strongly criticize the fact that North Korea conducted two short-range missile testing a few days earlier. North Korea has conducted 14 test shootings since May last year.

North Korea Industry

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