DPRK: A to Z

North Korea (DPRK) is like no other country on earth. To help you get an insight into this fascinating land and how to pray for it, here are some illuminating facts:


DPRK is officially an atheistic country.


Since 1972, each person in DPRK has been required to wear a badge with the image of former leader Kim Il-sung on it. Since the death of his son, Kim Jong-il in 2011, badges featuring both North Korean leaders have become standard apparel.


The communist country borders DPRK and is often seen as its closest ally.


Stands for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.


Elections for the national parliament are usually held every five years. Kim Jong-un was elected to represent Mount Paektu district in 2014. Every vote was cast for him, according to the final result.


From 1996 to 1999 many perished in the Great North Korean Famine which the Government put down to torrential rains. It is hard to quantify how many died: estimates range from 250,000
to three million people.

Great Leader

Affectionate title for Kim Il-sung, the first leader of the DPRK who died in 1994. He is also known as the ‘Eternal leader’ of the country.

High-profile visitor

Former US basketball player Dennis Rodman has made several controversial visits to DPRK to see Kim Jong-un, who is believed to be one of his fans.


All North Koreans are required to be part of an inminban or ‘people’s group’ which monitors the movement and activities of those in each group and the people who visit them.


Juche means self-reliance and is the belief that man is the master of everything and decides his own destiny. It is the dominant ideology within DPRK.

Kim Jong-un

Current leader of DPRK, who is revered by the population. He succeeded his father, Kim Jong-il, who died aged 69 in 2011.

Laura Ling

Ling and fellow US journalist Euna Lee were sentenced to 12 years of hard labour after being arrested near the DPRK border in 2009. They were released later that year after President Bill Clinton travelled to Pyongyang to secure a pardon.

Mass Games

Officially known as the Arirang Festival, this performance through song and dance tells the folk story of a young couple torn apart by an evil landlord, signifying the division of Korea.


Kim Jong-un claimed in November 2017 that DPRK had reached full nuclear statehood. This came after his regime launched a ballistic missile that splashed down in the Sea of Japan

Organisational life

System linked to inminban, which requires North Koreans to belong to an ‘organisation’ that will direct his/her social activities.


The capital of DPRK. People who are healthy, loyal to the North Korean leaders, and have the proper class background are selected to live in the city.


Earthquakes have been detected in DPRK near to where the nation has conducted its nuclear tests.

Republic of South Korea

Neighbour to DPRK with which it has an uneasy relationship.


A hereditary system in which every North Korean belongs to one of three strata: ‘loyal’, ‘unwavering’ or ‘hostile’.


The Taedong River flows for 273 miles, passing through Pyongyang, and is used by ships because of its depth.


Some hope that North and South Korea will become one country. Younger people in South Korea are less keen. A 2010 Seoul National University survey of attitudes to unification only 49% of those in their 20s said it was ‘necessary’ for both countries to unite.


North Korean officials met representatives from the Central Bank of Venezuela late in 2017, where they apparently discussed ways for Venezuela ‘to avoid imperial aggression’.


The site of the first great Korean revival in 1903 where thousands of new converts trusted in Christ. It is now a seaside vacation spot in DPRK and a test site for North Korean rockets.

X Factor

The grandfather of 2013 X Factor Australia winner Dami Im left his family in DPRK in his twenties. However, he was unable to return home when war broke out.


North Korea’s major nuclear scientific research facility north of Pyongyang.


Pyongyang has a zoo. It was built in 1959, reopening in 2016 after two years of renovation work.

This article was contributed by BMS World Mission and a version originally appeared on www.bmsworldmission.org