Global Poverty For decades, North Korea, the last Stalinist country in the world, has faced dire economic problems.
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Global Poverty

 

For decades, North Korea, the last Stalinist country in the world, has faced dire

economic problems. Its downward spiral started with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 when large subsidies for Pyongyang ended. While little hard data is available, this event seems to have sent North Korea into a decline that has meant poverty and near starvation for many, if not most, of its people.

Ecological issues are involved, including overuse of petroleum-based fertilizers that has destroyed much of the arable land. But flooding and record high summer temperatures are only part of the problem. In reality, the food crisis is just part of an overall breakdown of the country's state-controlled and centrally planned system. The problems of the country have continues for years, indicating that the North Korean government has no strategy for how to stop the free fall.

Some analysts explain that North Korea is a country that has reverted from a doctrinaire socialist state to more of a theocracy, with the country's founder and revered "Great Leader," Kim II Sung, as its high priest. He is still revered publically as the nation's "eternal leader."

On October 8, 1997, three years after the death of Kim II Sung, his son, Kim Jong II, officially took over leadership of the ruling Korean Workers Party. This event led to speculation that the younger Kim might be willing to break from some of the country's socialist practices and adopt the reforms necessary for the country to survive. That never happened. In 2011, Kim Jung Il died, and Kim Jung Un, his youngest son, rose to power. At this point, there is little evidence of change in what is probably the world's most rigidly controlled nation.

North Korea now has developed some nuclear weapons. But simpler technology, including access to the Internet and even a telephone line, remains tightly regulated and limited to a small number of government officials.

 

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