Where We Work

North Korea

2012 marked the first full year that long-time leader Kim Jong-il’s youngest son, Kim Jong-un, was in power after being named head of state upon his father’s death in 2011. The last Stalinist country in the world, North Korea’s diplomatic relations with South Korea and the United States remain tense, while many of its people face chronic food insecurity and poverty.

Despite heavy restrictions on aid workers, Concern has worked in North Korea since 1997 and now provides livelihoods opportunities and water and sanitation in rural and urban areas.

LIVELIHOODS - Increasing food production and income among 47,000 rural farmers

Concern is improving food security and nutrition for more than 20,000 extremely poor people in North Korea by investing in agricultural production. The program trained farmers to use conservation agriculture techniques to increase crop yields, established communal solar-heated green houses, and rehabilitated small-scale food processing units. By helping farmers produce a wider variety of crops (from four to 12 crops), families have greater variety in their diets, an improvement on the prevalent starch-based diet.

In 2012, Concern also launched a livelihoods program that focused on promoting conservation agriculture techniques in two cooperative farms. With more fertile soil and less erosion, the amount of work required by 3,500 farmers was reduced by an estimated 60 percent. Concern also established processing units for goat milk and soybeans as well as four greenhouses, oneorganic composing unit, and one fish hatchery, benefiting 23,500 people.

HEALTH - Protecting the health of 70,000 people through safe drinking water and sanitation infrastructure 

Over the last five years, Concern’s water and sanitation program has directly improved the lives of more than 70,000 people. Working closely with the Ministry of City Management and the Ministryof Public Health, Concern is running three water and sanitation projects in North Korea. The first is almost completed, with one water-pumping station, 800 reservoirs and distribution networks, one solid waste management system, and more than 420 latrines that support more than 20,000 people. Concern is also delivering safe drinking water directly to the homes of 10,500 people living in remote areas, reducing the burden of collecting water on women and girls. In the third project, Concern is working with communities to build two rural drinking water systems on cooperative farms and will provide sanitation systems for 3,900 people.


Area: 121,000 sq km
Population: 24.6 million
GDP per capita: n/a
Infant mortality (per thousand births): 26
Life expectancy: 69
Living with HIV and AIDS: <0.1 percent
Literacy rate: 100 percent
Without access to safe water: 2 percent
Human development rank: n/a
Global hunger rank/index: 52/19