What Democratic Korea has accomplished
- ================= Begin forwarded message =================
Somebody forwarded this to the Arab Nationalist list,
even though it's about Korea and was written over two
months ago. I think it's from the International
Action Center, Ramsey Clark's group, that was until
recently largely preoccupied with the war against
sanctions in Iraq.
Anyhow, this presents some very interesting statistics
about the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, all
taken basically from western sources.
WHAT KOREA HAS ACCOMPLISHED
By Tom Scahill
With George W. Bush threatening military intervention
to stop North Korea
from resuming its nuclear energy program, and at the
same time blaming the
Koreans for their economic difficulties, it's
important for people in the
U.S. to understand the accomplishments made by North
generations of colonial occupation, war and threats of
After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the
socialist states in eastern
Europe, North Korea as well as Cuba lost many of their
Meanwhile, there had been huge investment in the
buildup of South Korea as
an import-export economy by the United States and
other advanced capitalist
North Korea continues to face many difficulties, but
in some areas its
achievements have been amazing. Here are some
statistics from the
Illustrated Book of World Rankings 2001, 5th edition,
for South Korea, North
Korea, and a few for the United States, as well as for
Myanmar (Burma), a
nation in the region that, like Korea, has a colonial
past. Figures are for
1998 unless otherwise indicated.
It should be kept in mind that the population of South
Korea is almost twice
that of the north, which has a harsher climate than
the south. Myanmar's
population, 45 million, is about the same as South
Gross national product: South Korea ranked 11th in the
world at $485
billion. Myanmar ranked 58th at $55.7 billion. North
Korea ranked 64th at
$22 billion. However, many goods and services in North
Korea, like health
care, education and housing, are virtually free.
Percentage of income spent on housing: Myanmar ranked
87th at 10%, South
Korea 140th at 4.1%, North Korea 164th at .8%.
Percentage of income spent on health care: The U.S.
ranked first at 17%,
South Korea 35th at 5%, Myanmar 92nd at 2.4%. North
Korea was not listed.
Health care there is free.
Hospital beds: North Korea was third highest at 135
per 10,000 population;
the U.S. was 85th at 41 per 10,000, South Korea was
95th at 34 per 10,000,
and Myanmar was 200th at 6 per 10,000.
Population per physician: Myanmar's ratio is 3,485
people to 1 doctor, South
Korea is 784:1, North Korea is better at 370:1, and
the rich U.S. is
practically the same: 365:1.
Infant mortality: Myanmar had 79 deaths per 1,000 live
births; North Korea
had 23 per 1,000, South Korea was lower with 10 per
Life expectancy in both North and South Korea was the
same: 69 years. The
U.S. wasn't much higher--72 years, while Myanmar was
Of the three Asian countries, North Korea had the
lowest death rate--5.3 per
1,000, while in Myanmar it was 9.9 and in South Korea
North Korea did fantastically well on literacy: 95%.
The U.S. had 95.5% and
South Korea 98%. Myanmar was 83%.
Population with access to safe drinking water
(1994-95): North Korea is
listed with 38 other countries at 100%. Only 90% of
people in the U.S. have
access to safe drinking water, according to these
figures. In South Korea,
the number is 89%, and in Myanmar, only 39%.
Military personnel (1997): The U.S. has the
second-largest armed forces in
the world, 1,447,000, of whom 37,000 are stationed in
South Korea. North
Korea is fifth in the world at 1,055,000. South Korea
is sixth at 672,000.
Military budget (2000): The U.S. is ranked first at
$343.2 billion, more
than the next 16 countries combined. South Korea is
ranked 12th at $12.8
billion. North Korea is 32nd at $1.3 billion.
It is obvious that North Korea tries to compensate
with human power for what
it may lack in military hardware.
The importance of trading with Western developed
countries was expounded by
Kim Il Sung as early as 1975. In 1984, the DPRK
officially launched an open
door policy of trade with the West and in 1988 began
to trade with South
Korea, expanding joint ventures in 1993.
In the late 1980s, while trade with the United States
nonexistent, nearly 60% of North Korea's trade came
from the Soviet Union,
followed by China and Japan. Today, North Korea's main
trading partners are
Japan, China and South Korea, as well as some
countries in western Europe.
South Korea received $4 billion in grant aid from 1953
to 1974 from the U.S.
Some 60% of all investment in South Korea before 1968
came from the U.S.
Its external debt grew to $46.7 billion in 1985 but
fell to $23 billion in
1991.( Library of Congress country studies) According
to the CIA fact book
for 2001, South Korea's debt in 2000 was $137 billion
while North Korea's
was $12 billion.
In 1989, North Korea's total foreign debt was $6.78
billion, with $3.13
billion owed to the Soviet Union. Historically, loans
to North Korea as
compared to South Korea have been negligible.
Between 1980 and 1989 North Korea provided a total of
million in aid to Third World countries, of which
almost 74% went to African
countries in the form of technical agricultural
assistance. (Library of
Congress country studies)
These are Western-compiled figures and may not do
justice to North Korea's
accomplishments. However, they do show that, if
unthreatened by imperialism
and allowed to grow into a united nation, the
achievements of the Korean
people would be monumental.
As the threats from Washington grow ever more serious,
it is up to the
anti-war movement to come to the defense of the Korean
posted March 6, 2003
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