Being one of the few remaining communist States in the world, North Korea offers a good example of a constrained economy facing dramatic internal and external pressures. Although land transport dominates in North Korea due to border trade with China and Russia, maritime transport better reflects its position in the global economy. Based on worldwide vessel movements at all ports connected to North Korea between 1985 and 2006, indicators of maritime connectivity closely match the country's evolution according to its political and economical changes. Alongside with a spatial contraction of forelands stemming from diplomatic isolation, industrial decline, trade embargo, and infrastructure dereliction after the collapse of the USSR (1991) and the nuclear crisis (1993-1994), results also show a process of regionalization and port concentration in Northeast Asia at a time of increased openness, cooperation projects, and foreign investments following the inter-Korean summit (2000) and the economic reforms (2002). Finally, comment are given about internal factors such as inter-regional disconnection, transport system dereliction, logistics costs, and accessibility that result in a growing divide between East and West co
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