🚗 🚙 Turn your trusty old car into trustworthy journalism Learn more

A country without an economy

Bob Moon Dec 19, 2011

North Korea’s gross domestic product is estimated to be just a tiny sliver of the size of South Korea’s bustling one-trillion-dollar economy — as little as three percent of that.

By one estimate, North Korea’s average official salary is equivalent to roughly two-dollars a month — although it’s thought that the the thriving black market brings that up to around 15 dollars a month.  

The North Korean government makes money through illegal trading, too: It’s known to traffic in an international black market for weapons, illegal drugs and counterfeit currency.  75 percent of the country’s trade is with China…and in return for providing the bulk of food and military aid to North Korea, the Chinese are allowed to exploit the country’s resources through mining and fishing.
 
North Korea has long relied on handouts to feed its own people. It’s received more two million dollars in U.S. humanitarian aid this year, even as international sanctions have been tightened over its defiant development of nuclear weapons.

There’s a lot happening in the world.  Through it all, Marketplace is here for you. 

You rely on Marketplace to break down the world’s events and tell you how it affects you in a fact-based, approachable way. We rely on your financial support to keep making that possible. 

Your donation today powers the independent journalism that you rely on. For just $5/month, you can help sustain Marketplace so we can keep reporting on the things that matter to you.