North Korea. The hope of a solution to the international conflict over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program that emerged in 2007 was changed into new doubts during the year. Already at the turn of the year, the countries in the six-party group accused North Koreaof failing to fulfill the pledge to completely close the Yongbyon nuclear plant and to publish its entire nuclear weapons program before December 31, 2007. The United States gave Pyongyang a final report by February.
In an effort to reduce friction between countries, the New York Philharmonic held a concert in Pyongyang in February. And for the first time since 2005, the United States provided food aid to North Korea in May, which according to the United Nations food program was threatened by starvation. But irritation between the parties gradually increased throughout the first half of the year, before North Korea in June finally submitted his report on the nuclear weapons program to China. At the same time, one of the cooling plants in Yongbyon was blown up.
- ABBREVIATIONFINDER: Click to see the meanings of 2-letter acronym and abbreviation of KP in general and in geography as North Korea in particular.
During new six-party talks (between North Korea, South Korea, Russia, USA, Japan and China) in July, it was decided that the nuclear plant would be completely dismantled in October. But in September, Pyongyang declared that Yongbyon would be put back into service because the United States has not yet removed North Korea from its list of countries that support terrorism. In the same month, inspectors from the United Nations Atomic Energy Agency IAEA were banned from visiting Yongbyon, which was now upgraded again. After further mediation, the parties agreed in October that IAEA inspectors could visit the country’s facilities again, prompting the United States to fulfill its promise and remove N. from the list of “terrorist countries.” North Korea announced that the disarmament of Yongbyon would continue, but in December, the Americans stated that the process had stopped again due to differences of opinion regarding the account of the disarmament.
Relations with South Korea also deteriorated during the year, partly as a result of South Korea’s new president Lee Myung Bak pursuing a tougher line against North Korea than representatives Roh Moo Hyun and Kim Dae Jung. In the spring, South Korea threatened to halt some aid if North Korea did not strengthen respect for human rights, released imprisoned South Koreans and followed the disarmament agreement. As revenge, North Korea carried out new missile tests and expelled South Koreans working in the Kaesong industrial zone on the border between the two countries. The situation was made worse by the fact that in July a North Korean soldier shot to death a South Korean woman who was in the special tourist area of the Kumgang Mountains inside North Korea. The woman must have happened outside the tourist zone.
North Korea’s new twist in relation to the outside world was linked by some analysts with nervousness over rumors that the country’s leader Kim Jong Il would be seriously ill. The speculation, which came to a halt when Kim was absent from a series of official commitments, tried to stop the regime by spreading images in the media of Kim in good shape. According to the regime, the pictures would have been taken.
According to media reports, in June a South Korean fisherman has moved from North Korea after over 30 years in captivity. The man fled to the South Korean Consulate in China and returned home from there. The fisherman told me that he was captured in 1975 along with 32 other crewmen aboard a trawler.
In November, North Korea announced that a month later, the country would close the border for travel by road to and from South Korea, as the neighboring country was perceived to be pursuing an aggressive policy towards North Korea.
According to Countryaah reports, the population of North Korea in 2008 was 24,548,725, ranking number 48 in the world. The population growth rate was 0.530% yearly, and the population density was 203.8770 people per km2.