North Korea recently released population statistics that show there are only 95 men for every 100 women in the north. In the south its 100.3 males for every 100 females. In China its 115 to 100 and throughout Asia it’s 105 to 100. This is a new mystery, for in North Korea few parents have access to technology that allows them to know the gender of their unborn child early on to get an abortion. This has resulted in a growing imbalance throughout Asia, because in so many nations parents can afford to check the gender of unborn children and abort it if it is a girl. That has resulted in a shortage of brides for young men. But in North Korea there is a shortage of men.
Going back to interviews with over 25,000 North Koreans who have made it to South Korea (where they are scrutinized to detect who is a North Korean spy) provided some clues. The refugees indicated that the death rate among men was high in the prison camps, which was expected. But it had gone unnoticed that refugees also spoke of “high” death rates in the military, where most men spend a mandatory six years. It appears that more men than women died during big famine of the 1990s (which killed five percent of the population) and that work related accidents kill more men than women. According to North Korean data the up there men live shorter (by 16 percent) lives than southerners (for women it’s 15 percent). Moreover, the government exports a lot of men to work in foreign countries. Most of their pay comes back to North Korea and most of that is taken by the government with the rest going to the families of the workers.
The cause may be nothing more than bad data. One thing is clear, life is a lot harder, and shorter in the north for men and women.