North Korea’s Science and Technology Policy and the Development of Technology-Intensive Industries

In: Perspectives on Global Development and Technology
Jai S. Mah Division of International Studies, Ewha Womans University Seodaemun-gu, Seoul South Korea

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The North Korean government declared a pursuit of the Military-First Policy and the Ideology of Focusing on Science and Technology in the late 1990s. It thus made science and technology central to its goal of the Establishment of Strong and Prosperous State. North Korea came to perceive science and technology as engines for promoting both nuclear armament and economic development. The switch of policy attention to science and technology has facilitated the development of some selected technology-intensive industries. In 2017, North Korea declared that it had completed development of nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Although North Korea’s development of hi-tech arms including nuclear bombs and ICBMs appears inconsistent with its low level of economic development, it can be understood in light of the North Korean government’s emphasis on science and technology and prioritization of the allocation of resources to defense.

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