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North Korea Agriculture and Fishing Overview
Agriculture and fishing
Less than a fifth of North Korea's surface is cultivable and the far north is the short growing season. The soil is nutrient poor and the rainfall is usually small. The most important crops are rice, corn and potatoes.
Sweet potatoes and soybeans are also important, and in addition wheat, barley, millet, oats and rye are grown. Livestock breeding is also common.
Agriculture is estimated to account for up to a quarter of the economy. But the harvests are not enough to feed the population. Until the 1980s, rice was an important export commodity, but during the 1990s the country suffered from severe food shortages (see Modern History and Social Conditions). North Korea has since depended on aid shipments of food from overseas.
Drought and flooding have contributed to the problems, but one reason is also an inefficient system with low yields relative to the cultivated area. However, harvests are reported to have increased somewhat in recent years. Potatoes have become much more common after the famine disaster in the 1990s, production has quadrupled, according to some data.
Agriculture has mainly been conducted collectively or, increasingly since the 1990s, on state farms. After the reforms of 2002, farmers are allowed to retain a share of the harvest for their own part.
The planning economy has led to severe pollution of air and water as well as soil destruction and cold cutting of forests. Felling is mostly spent on fuel. Forest planting is carried out, and a lot of timber is imported.
Fishing is important. It provides protein, export income and license money (from Japanese fishing vessels). In both the Japanese Sea and the Yellow Sea, catches include pollock, cod, octopus, sardines and shrimp.
Military exercise in response to sanctions
North Korea holds the military exercise in response to the unilateral sanctions against North Korea that Japan and South Korea face in addition to UN sanctions on the country.
New harsh sanctions
The sanctions are introduced in response to the nuclear test in September and have required three months of tough negotiations between the US and China. The sanctions set a ceiling for the country's coal exports and prohibit the export of certain metals such as copper, silver, zinc and nickel. North Korea will thus lose large revenue in the Treasury, which the United States hopes will lead to less resources being allocated to the nuclear weapons and missile programs.
The fifth nuclear test is carried out
North Korea states after the blast that it now has the capacity to mount nuclear warheads on ballistic missiles. According to estimates from, among others, South Korea, the test is the most powerful that North Korea has performed. The United States, China, Japan and several countries condemn the trial.
Missile is fired from a submarine
North Korea is conducting another missile test, this time from a submarine. Experts believe that the missile test is the most successful to date from a submarine. The UN Security Council condemns both this test firing and the missile test carried out a few days earlier.
Top diplomat jumps off to South Korea
The diplomat holds the second highest position at the Embassy in London. He is believed to be the highest-ranked North Korean to have jumped off to South Korea.
New missile test
North Korea fires another missile landing in the sea off Japan after a distance of 100 miles. It was considered to be the longest distance a North Korean missile could travel to date. The test led to strong protests from Japan and condemnations from the US.
Demonstration of power against South Korea
In response to the announcement that the US and South Korea should establish a joint missile defense, North Korea fires three missiles landing in the sea off South Korea.
US faces sanctions against Kim Jong-Un
The United States is sanctioning Kim Jong-Un personally. The North Korean leader is held personally responsible by the United States for a wide range of human rights violations committed against his own people. Among the abuses are extrajudicial executions, torture and forced labor. The sanctions mean that Kim's potential assets in the US are frozen and that US citizens are not allowed to do business with him. North Korea calls the sanctions "a declaration of war".
Reinforced leadership role for Kim
Kim Jong-Un is elected chairman of the newly established State Business Commission. The new Commission replaces the National Defense Commission as the country's highest governing body. Thus, Kim's role as the country's highest leader is reinforced (see also Political system).
Successful missile test scares
After a number of failed missile tests in recent months, North Korea launches a new type of medium-range missile that travels 40 kilometers before landing in the sea off Japan. North Korea's leaders cheer and say that the country now has the capability to strike against US facilities throughout the Pacific. US experts following the North Korean missile program say the test shows that within a few years, North Korea may have developed missiles reaching the US mainland. The missile test causes the UN Security Council to gather and urge member states to double the sanctions against North Korea. A few days later, South Korea and the United States conduct a joint missile defense exercise. For the first time, Japan is also included.
The EU tightens sanctions on North Korea
An additional 18 high-ranking military and other influential North Koreans will be subject to pre-existing sanctions that include travel bans and asset freezes.
The party holds the first congress since 1980
Kim Jong-Un is elected party chairman.
Two tests of medium-range missiles fail
The data comes from South Korean media.
North Korea is said to be preparing for the fifth nuclear test
South Korea's President Park Geun-Hye states that preparations for a fifth test are now complete in North Korea and that the neighbor can carry out a new nuclear test at any time.
The Communist Party will hold a congress
According to information from the state news agency, the party will hold congress on May 4. It will be the first party congress since 1980.
New missile tests
North Korea is testing to fire a missile from a submarine. Following the test, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su-Yong comes with an offer to the US not to carry out more missile tests in exchange for the US stopping the ongoing military exercises with South Korea. US President Barack Obama dismisses the offer.
New message about nuclear weapons technology
Kim Jong-Un announces that the country can now produce enough small nuclear warheads to accommodate ballistic missiles. The data is being questioned by experts in the West.
North Koreans flee to South Korea
13 North Koreans who worked at a North Korean restaurant in China are leaving and moving to South Korea. A week later it was reported that a senior North Korean military responsible for spy operations had moved to South Korea. Nearly 30,000 North Koreans are said to have moved to South Korea since the Korean War.
Test of medium-range missiles
North Korea fires two medium-range missiles landing in the sea.
America is sentenced to labor camps
A young American is sentenced to 15 years for criminal activity for attempting to steal a North Korean propaganda sign.
In light of North Korea's latest nuclear test and satellite launch before US President Barack Obama through a so-called executive order new US sanctions on North Korea. Among other things, US exports and investments in North Korea are banned, while it will also be possible to blacklist anyone who cooperates with North Korea.
North Korea warns the US and South Korea of nuclear attacks as both countries launch annual joint military exercises - the most comprehensive to date.
North Korea launches missiles
Following the announcement of new sanctions, according to South Korean media, North Korea is conducting test shootings of six short-range missiles in the sea outside.
The UN Security Council introduces new sanctions
After lengthy negotiations between the US and China, the Security Council finally agreed to impose harsh sanctions on North Korea following the latest nuclear test and rocket launch. The sanctions mean that all cargo transported to North Korea must be controlled to prevent the import of banned raw materials such as coal, iron, gold, titanium and rare minerals, which can be used for the nuclear and missile programs. Exports of lighter weapons are also prohibited to the country.
North Korea is boycotting the UN Human Rights Council
Foreign Minister Ri Su-Yong says that North Korea will no longer participate in the Council's investigations into the human rights situation in the country. The reason is that, according to North Korea, the Council is "politicized, selective and has double standards". The North Korean takeover comes a day before the Council will meet to discuss any new sanctions against North Korea for the latest trial of a long-range missile.
North Korea expels South Koreans
After South Korea shuts off the supply of electricity and water to Kaesong (see above), North Korea responds by expelling South Koreans working in the zone and putting it under military control.
The South Korean government announces that it will suspend operations at Kaesong, the industrial zone operated jointly with North Korea. The closure is due to North Korea's latest rocket launch and nuclear test. According to South Korea, Kaesong, an important source of income for North Korea, should not be used to finance the development of nuclear weapons.
New long range missile test firing
A long-range rocket is fired from the Dongchan-ri ramp and, according to official records, manages to put a satellite into orbit around the earth. According to the regime, the test is part of the country's satellite program, but the outside world claims it is part of efforts to develop nuclear-weapon long-range missiles. The UN Security Council condemns the launch.
Fourth nuclear test
The regime announces via the state television that North Korea has successfully tested a hydrogen bomb. In that case, it would be the first time that North Korea has managed to detonate a bomb through so-called fusion technology (nuclear fusion) instead of through fission (nuclear fission) with plutonium. The explosion triggers an earthquake in the Northeast, but foreign observers strongly question that it would be a hydrogen bomb. A number of countries and the UN Security Council condemn the trial.