About half of all North Koreans live in extreme poverty. The country's 24 million people subsist primarily on corn and kimchi; fuel for cooking and heating is scarce. Electric power is sporadic -- homes often have electricity for just a few hours each day. However, neighboring South Korea estimates that North Korea's underground mineral deposits could be worth $6 trillion USD or more.
Unfortunately, North Korea lacks the infrastructure and modern technology necessary to extract the plentiful supply of coal, limestone, magnesite and uranium ore. Billions of dollars worth of gold, zinc, manganese, iron, and copper are also waiting to be tapped, as are rich sources of rare earth metals, which are needed to make semiconductors and smartphones. Furthermore, mining experts have reported that many of the secretive country's mines are flooded or in disrepair.
Some of North Korea's top exports: