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Country Reports

North Korea Country Report

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Risk Level

Low
Moderate
Elevated
High
Very High
Severe
Extreme

Overview

Executive Summary

Ambiguity around North Korea's – and importantly the United States' – redlines drives the very high risk of interstate war. In addition to a sixth nuclear test and multiple long-range ballistic missile launches by North Korea in 2017, bellicose rhetoric from both sides continues to contribute to brinkmanship that increases the risk of miscalculation. War remains unlikely, although the intensification of incidents and perceived unpredictability have increased the probability of unintended conflict. Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has consolidated power by assuming key positions in the Korean Workers' Party (KWP) and appointing supporters to top military positions. Reorganisations of the state's top organs have also increased the KWP's oversight of the military. In 2018, moretests related to North Korea's longer-range ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons capabilities are highly probable.

Last update: March 27, 2018

Operational Outlook

North Korea's operational environment is among the riskiest in the world. Government efforts to introduce more market-oriented policies have consistently stalled or have been suspended. Physical infrastructure is poor outside the capital, and substantial improvement is unlikely even in special economic zones. International sanctions because of North Korea's nuclear and missile programmes will pose growing obstacles to foreign businesses in the one-year outlook. All labour is controlled by the government, adding withdrawal of workers to the risk of arbitrary seizure of assets, as happened in the Kaesong Industrial Zone in April 2013 and February 2016.

Last update: March 27, 2018

Terrorism

Low

There are no known domestic or transnational terrorist groups in North Korea. However, the government has sponsored terrorism in the form of kidnapping foreigners (such as Japanese citizens from Japan in the 1970s) or attacks on mainly South Korean targets. The assassination of the North Korean leader's half-brother in Malaysia in February 2017 was most likely carried out by a state actor such as North Korea. The North Korean government and military support terrorism internationally by selling technology, training, and weapons to state and non-state actors, including chemical weapons to the Syrian government and small-arms and anti-tank weapons to groups, including Hamas in the Middle East.

Last update: March 27, 2018

War Risks

High

War remains unlikely, although the intensification of incidents and perceived unpredictability have increased the probability of unintended conflict. A sixth nuclear test and multiple long-range missile launches by North Korea in 2017, in addition to bellicose rhetoric from North Korea and the United States, contribute to brinkmanship that increases the risk of miscalculation, particularly regarding what the other side would perceive as imminent hostile intent. Ambiguity around both sides' red lines drives the very high risk of interstate war. North Korea is almost certain to continue its pursuit of a nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile, unless there are substantial talks with the United States.

Last update: March 27, 2018

Social Stability

Moderate

North Korea's ubiquitous and strict domestic security and intelligence services minimise the risk of social unrest. Most people with strong anti-government leanings are more likely to attempt to leave North Korea rather than rebel. Food or fuel shortages are the most probable trigger for protests, but these will probably be sparsely attended because of the severe reaction by security forces. They will probably use force and mass detention, if not public execution, to disperse and end any protests. In the long term, increasing information on South Korea will probably foment political dissatisfaction, although not enough to instigate an uprising.

Last update: March 27, 2018

Health Risk

Severe

Vaccinations required to enter the country

Proof of vaccination against yellow fever is required if traveling from a country with risk of yellow fever transmission and over one year of age.

Routine Vaccinations

Hepatitis A: A vaccine is available for anyone over one year of age. The vaccine may not be effective for certain people, e.g. those born before 1945 and who lived as a child in a developing country and/or have a past history of jaundice (icterus). These people can instead get a shot of immune globulin (IG) to boost their immunity against the disease.

Hepatitis B: A vaccine is available for children at least two months old.

Diphtheria-Tetanus-Polio: A booster shot should be administered if necessary (once every ten years).

Other Vaccinations

Typhoid Fever: If your travels take you to regions with poor sanitary conditions (for children two years old and up).

Rabies: For prolonged stays in an isolated region (for children from when they can walk).

Japanese Encephalitis: For stays of longer than one month in a rural zone during the rainy season (for children over the age of one). The vaccine is administered in a local medical facility.

For Children: All standard childhood immunizations should be up-to-date. In the case of a long stay, the BCG vaccine is recommended for children over one month and the MMR (measles-mumps-rubella) vaccine for children over nine months.

Last update: November 27, 2013

Practical Information

Climate

Autumn is sunny and dry. Winters are quite harsh but still sunny and dry. Spring is often foggy and rivers remain frozen until mid-April. Summer, monsoon season, is hot (30°C) and very rainy.

Useful Numbers

Country Code: +850

There are no emergency services in North Korea.

Electricity

Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz

Outlets:

Last update: January 21, 2014