Population 24.5 million Supr eme leader: Kim Jong- un North Korea remains the most closed-off society in the world. After WWII, northern Korea surrendered to the Soviets, while those in southern Korea surrendered to the Americans; the states were separated along the 38th parallel of latitude. South Korea’s economy flourished under a string of capitalist dictatorships and the country eventually became a democracy. North Korea remains communist, ruled by the same family for three generations: Kim Il-sung, followed by his son Kim Jong-il, and now the grandson Kim Jong-un. North Korea continues its militaristic policy, generating much international anxiety about its nuclear programme.