DPRK (North Korea)

DPRK, DPR Korea or Korea DPR (In Korean: 조선민주주의인민공화국, Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk) stands for “Democratic People’s Republic of Korea”. This is the official name for North Korea. North Korean’s do not recognise the term – North Korea. To them there is only one Korea, so it’s Chosŏn or DPRK.

Obviously this is quite the mouthful so you will often see it shortened to “North Korea” or DPRK in the media. According to western standards, North Korea is neither Democratic or a republic so what does it really mean? Let’s break it down.

People's Republics

The term “People’s Republics” can be dated back to the country’s formation when Moscow was spreading socialist values to its satellite states.

Korea had just been liberated from Imperial Japan in 1945 and was being split in two by the allied victors after the Second World War. The short lived People’s Republic of Korea was established in the South. The Soviet propped Northern side quickly added “Democratic to it’s title to differentiate itself. It has not changed it’s name ever since.

Democracy in this context clearly does not mean democratic elections, free speech etc like we’re used to – but rather that the party, in this case the Worker’s Party of Korea – represents the masses as opposed to a capitalist or colonial system.


What would happen in the event of reunification between North & South Korea?

In 1973, DPRK founder Kim Il Sung proposed a Confederation of Koryo. Koryo was the name of a 10th Century feudal regime and the origins of the name “Korea”. The unified country would work as one nation, two systems. To be fully established without any outside assistance.

So keep this in mind when you travel to the DPRK. North Koreans don’t like it when foreigners use the term North Korea. They prefer DPRK or just “Korea”. Don’t worry if you mess this up, this is one of the many things you will learn on a North Korea Tour (Ahem – DPRK Tour…!)

Rocky road travel founder Shane Horan at the DMZ


When Shane is not endlessly writing award winning blogs for Rocky Road, he’s usually planning the next far fetched getaway or enjoying a beer in one of many Berlin pubs.