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At a glance: Korea, Democratic People's Republic of


This map does not reflect a position by UNICEF on the legal status of any country or territory or the delimitation of any frontiers.

Despite improvements in the past several years, rates of chronic malnutrition and underweight among children in DPR Korea remain high. 

Food shortages are an ongoing concern, threatening to undermine a decade of progress in the battle against malnutrition.

The country also suffers from widespread shortages of essential medicines, textbooks, school materials and fuel for heating during the long sub-zero winters.

Issues facing children in Democratic People’s Republic of Korea

  • About 20% of children under the age of two suffer from diarrhoeal diseases caused by contaminated water and poor hygiene practices.
  • Approximately one third of mothers are malnourished and anaemic, a rate that has not improved since 2002.
  • A lack of high-quality obstetric care contributes to a reported maternal mortality rate of 110 deaths per 100,000 live births.
  • Learning methods have not evolved in step with international standards. Combined with the shortages of textbooks and materials, this is negatively affecting the quality of education.
  • Although the incidence of HIV/AIDS is low, it is surely greater than the official figure of “zero cases” claimed by the government. Frequent contact with China and other neighbouring countries where AIDS is growing poses a threat that could be stemmed easily and inexpensively with education.

Activities and results for children

  • Routine immunization services have greatly improved. More than 90 per cent of children under age one have been vaccinated against tuberculosis, polio, measles and hepatitis B; 80 per cent received shots for tetanus, pertussis and diphtheria.
  • Two million children under age five received vitamin A supplements and de-worming tablets.
  • Nearly 3,000 severely malnourished children received lifesaving emergency assistance in 2005.
  • UNICEF and the World Food Programme provided minerals and vitamin-fortified food to 2 million children and 300,000 pregnant/lactating women.
  • Improved water treatment systems in urban centres are providing clean water to 5 million people.
  • UNICEF and its partners delivered textbooks and/or stationery sets to nearly a million children in 2005. The renovation of schools has allowed 4,000 children to learn in safe classrooms.



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