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North Korea, land cover, urban growth, urban expansion intensity index


Largely due to data unavailability, the spatial pattern of urban growth in North Korea has been rarely studied. This study explored urban changes in North Korea and provided their plausible causes. The present study used satellite-based land cover datasets produced by the government of South Korea to examine the extent and distribution of urban land cover in North Korea between the late 1980s (1987-1989) and late 2000s (2008-2010) at the municipal level. Urban Expansion Intensity Index (UEII) was calculated for two ten-year intervals and the spatial autocorrelation of UEII values was examined. Major findings from the study are summarized as follows: (1) the capital city Pyongyang’s dominance continued without an obvious sign of slowing down; (2) economic development districts do not appear to have much influence on urban land cover changes; and (3) the extent of urban land cover slightly decreased in much of the country between the late 1990s (1997-1999) and late 2000s (2008-2010). The results and discussion in this study suggest internal migration and stagnant economy as probably important causes for the phenomena.


This is an Accepted Manuscript of an article published by Wiley in Land Degradation & Development in volume 30 in 2019, available online:

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