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Military Burden: North Korea Spends Quarter of GDP on Armed Forces

© REUTERS / Damir SagoljSoldiers shout slogans towards a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other officials during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang October 10, 2015
Soldiers shout slogans towards a stand with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and other officials during the parade celebrating the 70th anniversary of the founding of the ruling Workers' Party of Korea, in Pyongyang October 10, 2015 - Sputnik International
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No other country in the world may be compared to North Korea, where the population bears an incredible military burden in its 60-year-long standoff with its southern adversary.

Winter in North Korea: Daily Life of World's Most Closed Society - Sputnik International
Winter in North Korea: Daily Life of World's Most Closed Society
Military burden is measured by comparing all military expenditures to a nation’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The average annual number worldwide is some 2%, according to the recent World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 2015 report by the US State Department.

North Korea is a unique nation to this effect, putting into its army, navy and air force almost a quarter of GDP – 23.8%, to be precise, according to the report.

Meanwhile, the country’s main rival, South Korea, has a 2.5% military burden, while the United States, the chief ally of the latter, dedicates some 4.3% to this expenditure. Neighboring China and Russia hold this parameter close to 2.1% and 3.7%, respectively.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits the Kumsusan Palace of the Sun on a national memorial day in this photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang December 17, 2015 - Sputnik International
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The incomparable military burden born by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea stems from its extremely low gross domestic product, ranked 101 in the world and estimated for 2002 through 2012 at just 17 billion annually in constant 2012 US dollars terms. During the same period, South Korea ranked 14 globally, with its $1,010 billion, and the US was no. 1, with $15,400 billion average GDP.

Adding to this, North Korea ranks 4th globally in term of its armed forces’ personnel, with a 1,170,000 mean for 2002-2012, while only 679,000 served with the South Korean military, ranked 7 in the world.

​By number of military personnel China, the US and Russia are ranked 1st, 2nd and 5th, respectively, estimated at 2,210,000 for the People’s Republic of China, 1,410,000 for the United States of America and 1,000,000 for the Russian Federation.

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