Democratic People's Republic of Korea – better known as simply North Korea – hit the headlines again this week, after it was linked to a major cybersecurity breach of Sony Pictures.
North Korea is possible the only truly Communist regime left in the world. Since the Cold War ended the people of most communist states turned away from the controlling regimes to embrace democracy. Even China and Cuba are adapting the socialist revolutionary philosophies they were based on, and are embracing capitalism and free market economies.
In North Korea, this is not the case. The State owns everything, and controls everything: including the hearts and minds of its citizens.
A secretive regime, its nearly impossible for journalists to venture outside Pyongyang – the capital city which acts as a showcase for North Korea and it's regime, designed to convince the world that the DPRK is a successful and thriving state. But the country's economy is seen as virtually lifeless, due to decades of mismanagement, isolationist policies by the Kim dynasty, and international sanctions aimed at foiling its nuclear ambitions.
But those who manage to get out of the few cities, or escape the country, report widespread poverty, disease and starvation. In March 2011, the World Food Programme (WFP) estimated that 6 million North Koreans – a quarter of its population – needed food aid and a third of children were chronically malnourished or stunted.