Yes, I do believe North Korea is truly a poor country. I think the people are brave and wonderful, even though thoroughly intimidated by the propaganda against the West and capitalism. However, my opinion is formed mainly from one source; a book our book club read recently called NOTHING TO ENVY, by Barbara Demick.
If Ms. Demick's credentials were not so fine, I actually would have suspected her stories were untrue, they were so horrific. She interviewed six people over a period of fifteen years; refugees who had escaped from North to South Korea.
Communism has indeed bankrupted the country; a series of famines that left many orphans, as the older generations starved themselves to feed their children. The famines end only when so many people die that there is enough food for those who are left alive. And you are expected to keep on working, even when you receive no pay. People are expected to spy upon their neighbors, friends, family; and the slightest infraction can lead to prison or death...such as not dusting the portraits of the leaders mandatory in each home.
Even so, this author claims the propaganda is so intense that people truly believe their leaders are gods, and that capitalists are monsters, and that they are very fortunate to live in North Korea.