Needless to say that North Korea and South Korea, since the division of the country in 1948, took very different roads. If we take a look at the two countries now, and see how differently they developed since 1948 – when they started off at roughly the same level – we can see what dictatorship does to a country.
The differences are startling, even if we put aside the horrible famine of 1995-1998 which killed 1 million people, or 4% of the population. (Almost uniquely in history, this famine was as much an urban as a rural famine. Still today, many farmers are forced to eat grass. Even more than usual, this famine was a “government sponsored famine”).
- GDP per person is more than 17 times higher in the South than in the North
- International trade is 140 times higher
- Power generation is 16 times higher, whereas the population is only a bit more than double (see satellite image below)
- Life expectancy is more than 10 years higher
Here are two satellite images showing North and South Korea’s Electricity usage in the evening:
Some more data on North Korea: