Economic Gap Between 2 Korea Remains Huge

South Korea's economy is 37.4 times larger than North Korea's, according to the latest data. Statistics Korea said Wednesday that as of 2009 South Korea's nominal gross national income stood at US$837.2 billion as against North Korea's GNI of $22.4 billion. The figure is slightly lower than the 37.7-fold gap seen in 2008 but marked a significant increase from the 34.7-fold difference seen in 2006.

Per-capita GNI was $17,175 in the South, 17.9 times larger than North Korea's $960, and South Korea's total trade volume of $686.6 billion was 201.9 times greater than North Korea's $3.4 billion.

But North Korea has ample mineral resources. As of 2008, North Korea had W6,983.6 trillion (US$1=W1,126) worth of mineral resources, 24.1 times more than South Korea's W289.1 trillion. The North has an estimated W2,679.7 trillion worth of magnesite (6 billion tons), W2,662.9 trillion worth of coal (20.5 billion tons), and W61.33 trillion worth of gold (2,000 tons). South Korea had no magnesite while its coal deposits amount to just W15.7 billion or 1.36 billion tons, 5.9 percent of North Korea's.

Statistics Korea also cited media reports to describe the rising interest among North Koreans in South Korean pop culture. South Korean-made mixers, heaters, gas ranges, gas containers, lunch boxes, pressurized rice cookers, towels and gloves are sold in North Korea with the brand labels intact.

South Korean-made shampoo and conditioners are popular among high-ranking North Korean officials, with a 470 g product costing between 8,000 to 10,000 North Korean won and US$1.50 for a bar of soap. Some young North Koreans watch South Korean movies and TV dramas such as "Friend," "My Wife is a Gangster," and "Winter Sonata" on their Chinese laptops and listen to South Korean pop songs on their MP3 or CD players.

englishnews@chosun.com / Jan. 06, 2011 12:10 KST