North Korea Country Report
North Korea is among the countries with the highest IHS Markit operational risk scores. Government efforts to introduce more market-oriented policies have consistently stalled, or have been suspended or reversed. Despite ongoing construction, mainly in the capital Pyongyang, physical infrastructure is poor and substantial improvement is unlikely, including in special economic zones. International sanctions because of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes are likely to continue to hinder foreign investment or operations beyond the one-year outlook. All labour is controlled by the government, posing the risk of withdrawal of workers in addition to the arbitrary seizure of assets, as happened in the Kaesong Industrial Zone in April 2013 and February 2016.
There are no known domestic or transnational terrorist groups in North Korea. The government has been widely reported to have allegedly sponsored or carried out terrorist-style attacks abroad on South Korean targets or North Korean defectors, such as the assassination of the Supreme Leader's half-brother in Malaysia in February 2017. According to international media, the North Korean government and military also support international terrorism 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 militant groups, such as Hamas.
There is little petty crime in North Korea's tightly controlled state. Closely monitored foreign visitors are highly unlikely to be affected by criminal activity. The primary state authorities responsible for overseeing law and order are the People's Safety Agency (PSA) and National Security Agency (NSA). North Korean government involvement in international criminal activity, however, has been evidenced in multiple, well-sourced investigations. This includes allegations of cyber attacks and methamphetamine trafficking, which reportedly generate millions of dollars for the government. Increasingly, the state and its overseas organisations have also been widely reported to be involved in for-profit cyber crime.
The risk of interstate war on the Korean Peninsula is largely dependent on ongoing diplomacy between North Korea and the United States, as well as other regional actors. In June 2020, North Korea carried out a series of provocations against South Korea intended to manufacture a sense of crisis and coerce the US into re-entering sanctions negotiations. Along with the severing of all inter-Korean communication ties, these also increase the risk of miscalculation and escalation towards conflict, although a full-scale conflict on the Korean Peninsula remains unlikely. North Korean provocations will probably culminate in an intercontinental ballistic missile test in the months leading up to the November 2020 US presidential election.
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.
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).
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.
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.
There are no emergency services in North Korea.
Voltage: 220 V ~ 50 Hz