North Korea: The Economy Under UN Sanctions and Communist Rule




Negvesky, James Gerald

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The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea), one of the most heavily sanctioned countries in the world, continues to generate enough capital to make consistent strides in nuclear and missile technology. To this point, it has been successful in avoiding regime collapse. This analysis details how the isolated regime has been able to function economically in spite of numerous sanctions from the United Nations and other countries around the world. Sanctions have been aimed at both at the political elite and general citizen levels. Elites use state institutions as well as businesses to generate substantial amounts of foreign currency to fund a lavish lifestyle and a nuclear program. Normal citizens rely on border regions and black markets for their survival. The pervasive use of foreign currency among North Korean citizens has appeared to keep the general economy afloat. North Korea has had numerous economic setbacks, but the reactions of sympathetic governments and the average citizen seem to have created an economic system that is increasingly resistant to crash. This paper synthesizes information from defector interviews, global trade reports, and UN effectiveness reports to create a comprehensive illustration of how the economy of North Korea continues to function in a relatively stable manner.



North Korea, shadow economy, sanctions, United Nations, Honors College


Negvesky, J. G. (2018). North Korea: The economy under UN sanctions and communist rule (Unpublished thesis). Texas State University, San Marcos, Texas.


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