The CIA world fact book reports that North Korea’s GDP in 2011, 2012, and 2013 was at $40 billion each of those years. The GDP composition is broken down in agriculture (22% of GDP), industry (47%), and services (31%) (2015 est), and only 5.9% of GDP provided by exports. However, the service sector, in which North Korea’s economy gains a third of it’s gross domestic product, largely consists of a tourist industry (ethical implication?). CNN can provide you even more information on How North Korea Makes Money.
“This is a time machine. This is 1930’s Russia or this is 1950’s Soviet Union..So they see me as the Yankee imperialist aggressor, and I see them as the land that time forgot”, a Vice reporter commented about the stagnant nature of North Korea from the perspective of illegally filming Inside North Korea in 2011 .
North Korea’s economy is largely run by the government, which controls imports, exports, and manufacturing. According to ‘North Korea expert’ Andre Lankov, a Russian scholar of Asia and a specialist in Korean studies, the economic policy and direction Kim Jong-un is going seems relatively forward thinking compared to his father’s era. Lankov explains how the North Korean economy couldn’t be completely closed considering how it was built upon illegal black market trade.
The black market activity solves the question as to how North Korea’s economy is able to survive after both the great famine of the 1990s and a record breaking drought in 2015, just last year. (Blogger’s note: the causes weren’t completely natural, but rather due to poor policy).
So it seems that the North Korean government is realizing that being a completely closed economy just won’t work in 2016. And although North Korea has been open to receiving foreign aid and handouts from international organizations since the 1990’s the ‘government’ has been stubborn to open to greater trade relations