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N. Korea's power consumption per capita at 1970s levels

All Headlines 11:14 August 06, 2012

SEOUL, Aug. 6 (Yonhap) -- Power consumption in North Korea remains at 1970s levels, data showed Monday, an indicator of economic hardships in one of the world's most impoverished nations.

The North's per capita electricity consumption amounted to 819 kilowatt hours in 2008, below the yearly average of 919 in 1971, according to the data compiled by the South's Statistics Korea.

Power consumption in the North had been on the rise until the early 1990s, from 1,114 kilowatt hours per person in 1980 to 1,247 in 1990. But the uptrend was reversed in the mid-1990s when the North's economy began crumbling due to mismanagement and natural disasters.

The yearly per capita consumption fell to 912 kilowatt hours in 1995 and 712 in 2000. During the so-called "Arduous March" period from the mid-1990s, around 2 million North Koreans reportedly died from hunger.

In the 2000s, power consumption has been fluctuating, with its peak being reached in 2005 when a person used an average of 817 kilowatt hours for the year. But it has yet to regain the level of three decades ago, according to the data.

South Korea's per capita power consumption reached 9,510 kilowatts in 2011, the data showed.

"Consuming about 800 kilowatt hours of electricity per year per person means that the person scarcely uses power. He lives merely with his light on, as you say," said an official of the Korea Electric Power Corp.

The total amount of the North's electricity consumption per year amounted to 13,463 gigawatt hours in 1971, 19,201 in 1980, 25,111 in 1990 and 16,334 in 2000, 19,292 in 2005 and 18,121 in 2008, the data showed.

During the period, the North's population rose from 14.6 million in 1971 to 23.9 million in 2008, according to the data.

Meanwhile, the United Nations Development Program said in its report published last May that some 26 percent of the North Korean households have access to electricity as of 2009.

graceoh@yna.co.kr
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