August 11, 2022

No one knows North Korea’s GDP

Pyongyang remains secretive about even minor data, leaving rest of world to guess

“How large is North Korea’s per capita GDP?” This is a question that every researcher of North Korea is bound to hear quite frequently while talking to journalists, politicians and lay people. The only honest answer to this question is: “We do not know, and not even Marshal Kim Jong Un knows this.” Such frank responses, though, do not help scholars promote their ideas and their careers, so there have been some attempts at answering this question.

There are quite a few things that have to be overcome to answer this question, and scholars have struggled with North Korea.