Washington: North Korea has spent almost USD 1.3 billion on its rocket program this year, a report from South Korea`s government has suggested.
Two rockets, which were launched this year, this week`s mission and a failed attempt in April, cost USD 600 million, while the launch site itself is estimated at USD 400 million, said an official from the South Korea`s Ministry of Unification.
According to CNN, the official said that other related facilities add another USD 300 million.
“This is equivalent to acquiring 4.6 million tons of corn,” the report quoted the official, as saying.
“If this was used for solving the food shortage issue, North Koreans would not have to worry about food for four to five years,” he added.
Whatever the cost, what is known is that North Korea is one of the poorest countries in Asia, with an economy worth just USD 40 billion, according to the CIA World Factbook.
According to the report, Cheong Wook-Sik, the director of South Korea`s Peace Network in Seoul, pointed out that the price of Pyongyang’s rocket launches might be lower than government estimates because North Korean workers earn much less than their southern neighbours.
The Kaesong industrial complex, on the border with South Korea, has some of the country`s highest wage earners at about USD 100 per month, says Cheong, 14-year chief of the South Korean non-governmental organisation.
“This is very high compared to the rest of North Korea. If you`re not working in Kaesong, the average worker salary drops to an average of perhaps USD 50 per month,” the report quoted him, as saying.