Korea, North - Infrastructure, power, and communications



Although North Korea's infrastructure is extensive, it is crumbling and in need of expansion and modernization. The country's road system, estimated at 20,000 to 31,200 kilometers (between 12,400 and 19,344 miles), is limited and unpaved. Private cars are scarce and the number of trucks is limited. The 5,000-kilometer (3,100-mile) railway network, originally built by the Japanese, provides 70 percent of passenger transport and carries about 90 percent of the annual freight traffic.

Most of the country's ports and airports need modernization. Of North Korea's 12 ports, only a few can handle large ships, while only 22 of its 49 airports have paved runways. P'yongyang's Sunan airport operates 20 weekly flights, servicing only 6 destinations.

North Korea suffers from a shortage of oil and gas. The oil shortage came after the country was deprived of its access to low-priced Soviet oil and saw a significant decrease in oil shipments from China. The country produces electricity from fossil fuel (34.4 percent) and hydroelectric power generators (65.6 percent). Over the next several years, North Korea will approve funds to construct over 100 new power generating plants. The state-owned oil and gas facilities are being privatized and provide excellent opportunities for investment. In 1999 it was estimated that the country produced 28.6 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of electricity.

The telecommunication system is undeveloped. In 1995 there were 1.1 million telephone lines in use. Based on 1998 statistics, North Korea has 12 radio stations (AM, FM and short wave) and 38 television stations. There are 3.36 million radios and 1.2 million television sets in use. The country has 1 Internet service provider and no cellular telephone system.

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