North Korea

Map of Global Shipping Highlights North Korea's Isolation


Many readers will be familiar with photos of the Korean peninsula at night showing the stark differences between the economies of the capitalist south and the isolated, Stalinist north. An example of one such photo is below:


Over at the London-based City A.M. Peter Spence has found another way to highlight North Korea's isolation. The website tracks ships using AIS (Automatic Identification System) transponders, which are required by the International Maritime Organization for all ships over 299 gross tonnage.

Below is a map from of the Korean peninsula. It shows the location of ships as well as shipping density:

Spence mentions a World Bank report that highlights the differences between North Korea and South Korea's economic performance:

An openness to trade has helped to contribute to South Korea's economic growth miracle. The World Bank says that the country "has experienced remarkable success in combining rapid economic growth with significant reductions in poverty." In 2013 South Korea boasted an estimated GDP per capita of $33,200. North Korea's by contrast, was estimated at a mere $1,800 in 2011.

Perhaps looking at volumes of shipping to each of the Koreas is an unfair comparator, as North Korea is able to take greater advantage of rail links to the continent, but neighbouring China itself is a hive of cargo ship activity. The port of Dandong, close to the China-North Korea border is itself incredibly popular.

More from Reason on North Korea here

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  1. So, “Juche” is Nork for “suicidally braindead”, right?


    1. It probably translates to “Forward!”

  2. B-b-but…North Korea has INCOME EQUALITY.


  3. Daejeon!

  4. North Korea is an open-air prison ruled over by an insane troll. We know it’s fucked.

    1. …ruled over by an insane troll.

      Mary is actually Kim Jong-Un?

    2. Its the most fucked up horrible place in the world. It might be the most fucked up horrible place in history. I think it has Stain’s Russia or even Mao’s China beat hands down. Pol Pot’s Cambodia is about the only place I think that can match it.

      1. I think Pol Pot out-crazied the Kim family. He actually offed a double-digit percentage of his country’s population.


        1. Are there any Nork apologists writing for and being quoted by Sheldon Richman in Reason articles?

      2. I think Rwanda in April 1994 would probably take the cake, to be honest…

        Though there was no one leader overseeing the horror there equivalent to Stalin/Mao/Kim, a million people died in a matter of weeks; from what I remember of news reports from the time (I can’t find any numbers anywhere right now), that was 15-20% of the population… not to mention the hundreds of thousands more that fled.

  5. In other news, Sky Remains Blue.

  6. Explain to me why Kim has not been droned?

    1. Nukes. Also, Seoul is within artillery range of NK.

    2. Because no one wants to deal with the flood of puss that lancing that boil on the ass of civilization would produce.

      I wonder if the place is about to blow. We are on our second idiot son. A good rule is each generation of idiot sons are dumber and crazier than the one before.

      There keep being all of these reports of him killing various elites by flame thrower or wild dogs and such. Who knows if that is true. If it is, it is a sign he is losing his grip on power.

      The first two Kims stayed in power primarily because the elite knew that if the regime ever fell they were dead. The Kims were good about whacking the odd enemy but they were always careful about it. The danger of being a tyrant is that you want everyone to fear you but not fear you so much they feel like they are dead and have nothing to lose by going after you.

      Most tyrants fall because they get paranoid and start killing so many people the top elites finally decide they are dead if they don’t do something and thus kill the tyrant. The latest Kim killing so many people in such gruesome ways is not a sign of strength. It is a sign of weakness and paranoia. I think we are getting pretty close to the point where the people around him conclude they have nothing to lose by killing him.

      1. He’s young and grew up sheltered from NORK life. How cunning can he be? I suspect he’ll be dead within 5 years.

        1. Hmm. Much the same was said about his father, the “Dear Leader”.

          Don’t forget that they passed over two older brothers to elevate the “Fearless Leader.” He may have been the right sociopath for the job.

  7. It should never be forgotten that throughout most of the 50s and 60s, the American left considered North Korea to be the more noble of the two Koreas and blamed the US for starting the Korean war.

    1. The American left has already forgotten that. Forgetting how gosh darn wrong they are, over and over again, is one of their hallmarks. But they MEANT well.

    2. It should also be remembered that the American left sang Hitler’s praises from the date of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact until he betrayed the Soviets in operation Barbarossa.


      1. I believe the way the Communist parties of Europe and North America flipped their rhetoric at the signing of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact was the inspiration of the scene in Orwell’s 1984 where the speaker switches from condemning Eurasia to condemning Eastasia in mid-sentence.

  8. What I can’t figure out is how we libertarians are responsible for this. You know, like in Somalia and Detroit.

    1. Because if we hadn’t opposed sending North Korea billions of dollars worth of aid and otherwise been mean to them, the place would be prosperous.

  9. I don’t think it is correct to call North Korea Communist any more.

    It is now an absolute monarchy ruled by a God King. The ‘Communist’ government of North Korea has co-opted Korean mythology to turn the Kim Dynasty into traditional Korean Emperors.

    1. When a TOP MAN just won’t do, get a TOP GOD.

    2. I don’t think your point is incorrect. But I think that “real” communism has a half life of about 10 minutes. It’d be bad enough to still be worth opposing even if it were stable. The fact that it decomposes into straight up tyranny almost all the time is the real life reason to oppose it.

      1. I agree. But the North Korean state is in a class of it’s own.

        The Soviets and Maoists had their 5-year plans, which had a purpose. North Korea has nothing beyond the Cult of the Kim dynasty.

  10. Overlaying the black market trade routes, somehow, would also be interesting.

  11. On the other hand, it would appear North Korea is a world leader in not putting CO2 into the air. I’m sure Gaia approves.

  12. Yeah the littlest Kim is basically a real life Joffrey Baratheon.

  13. Note that before the partition, Northern Korea was the richer, more industrial part, and Southern Korea the more agricultural, poorer part.

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