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What Democratic Korea has accomplished

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  • thekoba@aztecfreenet.org
    ================= Begin forwarded message ================= Dear Kevin, Somebody forwarded this to the Arab Nationalist list, even though it s about Korea and
    Message 1 of 1 , May 21, 2003
      ================= Begin forwarded message =================

      Dear Kevin,

      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.





      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
      Korea despite
      generations of colonial occupation, war and threats of
      outside intervention.

      After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the
      socialist states in eastern
      Europe, North Korea as well as Cuba lost many of their
      trading partners.
      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
      58 years.

      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
      was virtually
      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
      approximately $26.4
      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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