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Economic Issues

These issue briefs cover economic issues in the DPRK, as well as US appropriations relevant to the DPRK.

Special Economic Zones in the DPRK

For over twenty years, North Korea has periodically attempted to bolster its economy through the creation of Special Economic Zones. North Korea’s interest in developing these SEZs has been sporadic, but several recent developments indicate that SEZs are becoming an increasingly important part of the country’s economic planning. This issue brief covers the history and recent developments concerning SEZs in the DPRK. Last updated January 14, 2014.

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FAO/WFP Food Assessments of North Korea

Since the mid-1990s, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme missions to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea have conducted annual crop and food assessments in North Korea. This issue brief excerpts FAO/WFP Assessment sections addressing the role of procurement, incentives, and markets in North Korea over the span of its work in the country in order to provide a window into how the UN organizations’ latitude to comment on North Korean government policies has changed over time. It also includes the Assessments’ commentary on North Korea’s Public Distribution System, and the levels of access the FAO/WFP were allowed in assessing crop production and household needs. Last updated April 19, 2013

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NCNK Issue Brief: South Korean NGOs and North Korea

This issue brief includes a listing of South Korean NGOs that have conducted humanitarian programs in the North, as well as a brief review of their activities since the Sunshine era.

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Macroeconomic Statistics and the DPRK

This NCNK Issue Brief gives a snapshot of key economic indicators and trade statistics for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Because the DPRK provides insufficient primary data, statics must be generated through “mirror statics.” However, not all statistics are created equal: the assumptions, methods and sources used vary from one data provider to another. In 2009, Dr. Mika Marumoto authored a report for the “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Economic Statistics Project,” a project of the U.S.-Korea Institute of the School for Advanced International Studies at Johns Hopkins University. The Statistics Project Report is intended as a “user’s guide;” this NCNK Issue Brief was created with the report’s recommendations in mind. Last updated December 21, 2009.

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Mt. Kumgang and Inter-Korean Relations

This Issue Brief, last updated November 10, 2009, provides an overview of the Mt. Kumgang Tourism Project. Please see the accompanying time line of significant meetings and events related to the tourism project.

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