Quick Facts

  • Officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea
  • Gained independence from Japan on August 15, 1945
  • Location: eastern Asia, northern half of the Korean Peninsula bordering the Korea Bay and the Sea of Japan, between China and South Korea
  • Area: 46,528 sq. miles, slightly smaller than the state of Mississippi
  • Terrain: mostly hills and mountains separated by steep, narrow valleys, coastal plains wide in west, discontinuous in east
  • Climate: temperate with rainfall concentrated in summer
  • Population: 24,983,205
  • Capital: Pyongyang (pop. 2.863 million)
  • Language: Korean
  • Religion: traditionally Buddhist and Confuncianist
  • Literacy: 100%
  • Economy: An almost entirely government-planed, state-owned economy. The Central Planning Committee prepares, supervises and implements economic plans, while a General Bureau of Provincial Industry in each region is responsible for the management of local manufacturing facilities, production, resource allocation, and sales.
  • Current weather conditions: www.weather.com
  • Tips for travel in country: www.travel.state.gov
  • Currency exchange rates: www.xe.com

Government in Power

  • A communist state one man dictatorship
  • Chief of state: Kim Jong Un (since 2011)
  • Head of government: Premier Pak Pong Ju (since 2013)


Healthcare Statistics

  • Maternal mortality rate: 82/100,000
  • Infant mortality rate: 23.68/1,000
  • Life expectancy: 70.11 years
  • Hospital bed density: 13.2 beds/1,000
  • Children under the age of 5 years underweight: 15.2%
  • North Korea has a national medical service and health insurance program. Since 1979 more emphasis has been put on traditional Korean medicine, based on tretment with herbs and acupuncture. Many hospitals and clinics now lack essential medicines, equipment, running water, and electricity.
  • About 100% of the population has access to water and sanitation, but it is not completely potable. Infectious diseases, such as tuberculosis, malaria and hepatitis B are considered endemic to this country.
  • Many Koreans suffer from malnutrition caused by famines related to the failure of its food distribution program and “military first” policy.
  • Infectious disease updates: http://wwwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/list.htm

Images From the Field

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Area Agencies

Field Stories

In November of 2014, I found myself, very spontaneously, on a mission trip to Ethiopia.  I have no medical experience, nor have I ever been on a mission trip, or even left the United States. I had always been moved to help others, and gravitated towards experiences that allow me to learn about other cultures. […]


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