Countryaah data, North Korea had an average population density of 211
residents per km 2 in 2019, but the settlement is
concentrated to the coastal areas and the plains of
southwestern North Korea. The country has a low population
growth rate, which reflects recent years' food shortages
rather than state family planning. However, late marriages
The population is ethnically very homogeneous: 99.8
percent are Koreans. Movements are controlled very strictly.
Between 1953 and 2000, only 5,000 North Koreans managed to
get out of the country and into South Korea. During the
2000s, the emigration pressure has been periodically quite
different. In 2003-04, a few hundred thousand North Koreans
fled to China and then tried to move on to South Korea.
However, a very small proportion of them succeeded. In
China, North Koreans are not welcome.
Urbanization has been very fast since 1950; In 2017, 62
percent of the population lived in cities. The largest
cities are the capital Pyongyang (3.4 million residents,
2012) and Hamhung - Hungnam (966,600).
For information on life expectancy and other demographic
statistics, see Country facts.
The official language is Korean. The dialectal
differences between North Korea and South Korea are distinct
but present no difficulties for mutual understanding. Even
within the spelling, there are minor differences. The
Chinese characters are completely abolished in North Korea.
The Pyongyang dialect is the norm for the standard speech.
For religion in Korea before 1948 and domestic
traditional religion in Korea, see Korea (Religion).
Due to the long conflict on the Korean Peninsula and the
closure of North Korea, information on religion and
religiosity is lacking. Of the statistics available (2010),
almost 57% of the population are stated to be agnostic,
almost 16% are atheists, about 13% are reported to be
engaged in some form of neo-religiousness and slightly fewer
(12%) are engaged in indigenous traditional religion. The
Christians make up less than 1%. The majority of these are
said to be independent as they do not belong to any
established Christian church community. The number of
Catholics is estimated to be about 40,000, and the number of
Protestants to 3,500.
According to the North Korea Constitution of 2009,
citizens are entitled to religious beliefs, the right to
erect buildings for religious purposes and the right to hold
religious ceremonies. But the same article (no. 68) states
that religion must not be used as an argument for bringing
in foreign powers or for damaging the state or social order.
In practice, the regime suppresses religious activity in
addition to certain religious organizations. These are
officially recognized and controlled by the government.
In Pyongyang there are four Christian churches: two
Protestant, one Catholic and one Russian Orthodox. The
Russian Orthodox was established in 2006, at the initiative
of Kim Jong Il, who had visited an Orthodox cathedral in the
Russian Federation in 2002. The purpose of the church is to
provide religious services to the Russians living in the
country. One of the Protestants (Chilgol Church) is
dedicated to Kim Il Sung's mother, Kang Pan Sok, who was a
Presbyterian deacon. Other religious organizations in the
country are: Korean Christian Federation, Korean Buddhist
Federation, Korean Roman Catholic Association (which is
established by the government and has no links with the
Vatican), Korean religious community and Chondonist
community. Chondonismen(The religion of the
heavenly road) has its roots in a peasant revolt in 1812.
The movement is basically Confucian but with elements of
Taoism and Buddhism. You deny a life after that. Instead,
emphasis is placed on personal development and social
welfare in this life; it is here and now that paradise is to
be realized. The movement grew strongly during the 20th
According to data from 2010, there are an estimated 60
Buddhist temples in the country. Most of these are seen as
cultural treasures, but in some religious activities are
allowed. In recent years, some of the temples have been
restored by state funds in an effort to preserve the Korean
nation's cultural heritage. In the country there are schools
that train Protestant and Buddhist priests.
The prevailing political and philosophical ideology in
North Korea is the juche (see further State
Condition and Politics) developed by Kim Il Sung during the
fight against the Japanese. Over time, juche has developed
into a cult with strong religious traits with Kim Il Sung in
the role of the country's divine eternal leader.
There are no national religious holidays set by the