North Korea, South Korea: Economic Snapshot

north korea

The most isolated nation in the world, North Korea, has increased aggression to its southern neighbor with nuclear and missile tests. The United Nations Security Council is meeting Friday to discuss toughening sanctions on North Korea amid recent provocations. President Trump has warned that America is facing a “major major” conflict in the region. FOX Business takes a look at the global implications involved in this volatile region.

The Economy

North Korea: The United Nations estimates that the nominal GDP per capita in North Korea is among the lowest of any country in the world, ranking it 180th out of 193 countries. Around half of the country's population, or 12 million people, is estimated to live in "extreme poverty."

South Korea: South Korea has the 11th largest economy in the world, but the recent impeachment of President Park Geun-hye puts the security of the nation’s economy in question. The U.S. and South Korea have been allies since the U.S. intervened in the Korean Peninsula in 1950.

Political Turmoil

North Korea: The country has a centralized government under rigid control of the communist Korean Workers' Party. Current leader Kim Jong-Un, who succeeded his father in 2011, has overseen more than 50 missile tests and three nuclear tests. Many world leaders view him as ruthless and a murderer.

South Korea: Last month, South Korea's President Park Geun-hye became the country's first democratically elected leader to be forced from office over a corruption scandal. Park's removal from office comes after months of political turmoil and protests in which three people died.


North Korea: China is North Korea's closest ally and largest provider of food, fuel and industrial machinery. In fact, 80% of North Korea's economy is based on trade with China. The Trump administration is pushing China to cut off North Korea's access to oil, money and communication.

South Korea: The value of imports and exports equals 85% of South Korea’s GDP, making it the fifth largest export economy in the world. South Korea’s largest trading partner is China, followed by the U.S.

Nuclear Threat

North Korea: Its military has conducted five nuclear tests since 2006 and the country could have as many as 100 nuclear warheads by 2020. North Korea has deployed more than 1,000 short- and medium-range ballistic missiles in recent years.

South Korea: With the help of the U.S., South Korea is deploying the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system to combat the threat from the north. But China, South Korea's largest trade partner, considers the THAAD system a security threat. Lockheed Martin (NYSE:LMT) is the prime contractor behind THAAD, while other U.S. companies such as Raytheon (NYSE:RTN), Boeing (NYSE:BA) and Honeywell (NYSE:HON) are subcontractors.

Armed Forces

North Korea: With 1.2 million active members, the country has the fourth largest armed forces in the world and puts 22% of its GDP toward military spending.

South Korea: The country has about 655,000 active duty troops, with roughly 25,000 U.S. troops stationed there for support. Seoul, the capital of South Korea, is home to 10 million people and sits just 35 miles from the border with North Korea.

Research compiled by FOX News Research, Associated Press