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What is the official name of North Korea?

The emblem of the chairman of the DPRK or North Korea
The emblem of the Chairman of the State Affairs, which features the official name of Korea

What is the official name of North Korea? Believe it or not, North Korea is actually called the DPRK! But what does that mean?

Before we get to the meaning of the acronym DPRK, let’s see why people refer to the country as North Korea.

Following the liberation of the Korean peninsula from Japanese colonial rule, the Russians and the Americans divided Korea along the 38th parallel, literally dividing the country in half.

The eventual plan was to have unified elections, and one government for the whole country, but alas this was not to happen. Much like in Germany, two parallel governments started to appear, with the one in the north under Soviet influence and the one on the south under American influence.

Eventually this turned into the DPRK in the North and the ROK in the south.

What does the DPRK mean?

DPRK meaning – Democratic People’s Republic of Korea – DPRK, or in Korean: 조선민주주의인민공화국, Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk. For a lesson on how to say Korea in Korean check out this link.

But lets break down the whole DPRK meaning;


In the socialist sense, ”Democratic” is meant to mean that all people are equal and refers to democratic centralism. One down, now we have the Democratic PRK


A People’s Republic is usually a socialist republic which is there to serve all people equally in a socialist fashion. You can read more about socialist countries here.  Democratic People’s – RK!


In the literal sense a republic is a country not ruled by a royal family, and usually by a president. Now whilst the succession of power in North Korea – sorry – the DPRK has been dynastic, it has also been done via the constitution and state organs of the republic. North Korea is a republic. DPR – Korea


Now this might seem obvious, but in fact north and south Korea both have different names for Korea, which you can read about here (link to YPT blog). Korea is actually a transliteration of the word Koryo, the former name of Korea. The DPRK/North Korea still refer to themselves as Joseon, the last official name of the country before the Japanese colonization of the Korean peninsula.

What is South Korea’s “real name”

In English the official title of South Korea is the Republic of Korea, you already know what Republic, and Korea mean, I’ll assume you already know the word “of”. Its name in Korean is probably more interesting:대한민국/大韓民國, Daehan Minguk, where Daehan means Greater Han from the river which crosses the country and the name of the main ethnicity of Korea, and Minguk means Republic. You’ll note that, same as with the Republic of China and the People’s Republic of China, the word for Republic, while the same in English, is different in Korean : Minguk/Konghwaguk .

And that is the background the to official name of North Korea and the DPRK meaning/meaning of the DPRK.

Now, come and see the DPRK for yourselves!

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