North Korea. North Korea, at the beginning of the year, engaged in very active diplomacy for the purpose of breaking the country’s international isolation. Diplomatic relations were established with Italy and Australia. USA, Canada, Japan and China. Japan decided to resume food aid interrupted in 1998. From Korea’s president came high-level talks between the two Korean governments, something that was not rejected by North Korea.
However, cooperation with foreign aid agencies was tough. In the spring, two organizations, one French and one American, decided to leave North Korea. The reasons were that food aid was being diverted to the army and to civil servants and that supervision of aid projects was made more difficult. The food situation in the country was reported to be very precarious.
In the spring, North Korea and South Korea agreed on a meeting between the two countries’ presidents for the first time since the Korean Peninsula was divided into two states in 1948. The historic summit between North Korea President Kim Jong Il and his South Korean counterpart Kim Dae Jung was held June 13-15 in Pyongyang. 600,000 cheering North Koreans edged the short route through the capital. Negotiations were conducted in a positive spirit and were followed by a written agreement on financial cooperation, on family reunification, on confidence-building measures and relaxation, on work for reconciliation and peaceful reunification between the North and the South. The contacts continued with ministerial meetings, which included agreed to open a railway line between the countries.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Offers three letter and two letter abbreviations for the country of North Korea. Also covers country profile such as geography, society and economy.
In July, Russian Federation President Vladimir Putin visited the country. It was the first visit by a head of state from the Russian Federation or the Soviet Union. Putin and Kim Jong Il agreed in their opposition to the US plans for a new robot defense, NMD, which motivated the US to “rogue states” such as North Korea have the intention and opportunity to build their own nuclear weapons. Kim explained to Putin that N. was ready to scrap his controversial robot program in exchange for foreign rockets intended for space satellites – North Korea claims that his own robots are intended for satellites. A few weeks later Kim withdrew his offer; he had just “joked”.
The agreed family reunion began in August, when 100 South Koreans traveled to Pyongyang and 100 North Koreans traveled to Seoul to meet relatives they had not seen for half a century. There were very emotional meetings. Similar trips were also carried out later in the year.
At the inauguration of the Sydney Olympics in September, the North and South Korean participants marched together under the same banner. At the end of October, another historic visit took place in North Korea when US Secretary of State Madeleine Albright visited Pyongyang. Kim Jong Il then explained that North Korea made a single test shoot with his own manufactured long distance robot and that no more test will be done. In December, Britain established diplomatic relations with North Korea.
Party congress in January on the problems in the economy
20th of August
Kim Jong-Un announces that the ruling Labor Party will hold a congress in January 2021 to discuss the troubled economic situation. A new five-year plan will also be developed. In connection with the announcement at a party meeting, Kim admitted that the set goals for finances had not been achieved and that living conditions had not improved to any great extent.
Change of head of government
Kim Jong-Un appoints Kim Tok-Hun as new head of government after Kim Jae-Ryong. Kim Tok-Hun has held the post of chair of the Budget Committee in the Supreme People’s Assembly (Parliament).
North Korea refuses to support after floods
Large amounts of precipitation over the past month, partly due to the monsoon lasting longer than usual, have triggered landslides and led to floods in both North and South Korea. In southern and western North Korea in particular, large areas of agricultural land have been affected and several thousand homes have been demolished. At least twenty people have lost their lives. Infrastructure such as railway lines and roads have also been destroyed. But Kim Jong-Un has in a statement refused humanitarian aid from the outside world. The reason, according to the North Korean leader, is to prevent covid-19 from entering the country. Assessors from the outside world believe, however, that it is in fact a matter of the regime not appearing weak and in need of help, both vis-à-vis the outside world and before the North Korean people.
Isolation of Kaesong is lifted
Authorities say the closure of the border town of Kaesong will be lifted (see July). The city has been isolated for three weeks after a North Korean defector who returned to North Korea contracted the infection, according to North Korean sources.
According to COUNTRYAAH, the population of North Korea in 2000 was 22,928,964, ranking number 45 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.960% yearly, and the population density was 190.4250 people per km2.