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North Korea indicates nominal increase in defence spending

Rising inflation means that despite a slight nominal acceleration in North Korea's defence spending in 2023, the budget in real terms will reduce for the third consecutive year. (Janes Defence Budgets)

North Korea has announced that it will spend nearly 16% of state expenditure in 2023 on defence. No monetary figure has been stipulated but the proportion is consistent with recent years.

Analysis of the expenditure byJanes Defence Budgets suggests that the country's military spending will increase nominally but decline in real terms because of rising inflation.

North Korea's defence funding plan was outlined in a budget report submitted to the 14th Standing Committee of the Supreme People's Assembly, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said on 19 January.

According to KCNA, the 2023 budget report appropriated 15.9% of total expenditure on defence, the same as in 2022. It said defence funding in 2022 “further bolstered up the war deterrence both in quality and quantity to contribute to defending the dignity and security of the country and the people”.

KCNA also said that the state budget expenditure in 2023 will increase by 1.7%, indicating that the funding allocation for defence could increase in monetary terms. However, it did not elaborate.

In 2022, North Korea test-launched about 70 ballistic missiles, indicating an accelerated effort to enhance strategic-strike capability. During the year, Pyongyang was also widely believed to be progressing plans to undertake its first nuclear test since 2017.

In a speech on 1 January 2023, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un pledged to further increase the country's nuclear and missile capability in 2023 in response to threats from the US and South Korea.

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