North Korea spent nearly a quarter of its gross domestic product on the military on average between 2002-2012, making the communist nation the world's No. 1 in terms of military expenditures relative to its GDP, according to U.S. data.
According to the State Department's World Military Expenditures and Arms Transfers 2015 report, the North's military expenditures averaged about US$4 billion a year. That accounts for 23.8 percent of the country's average GDP of $17 billion during the period.
Oman was a distant second on the list, spending 10.9 percent of its GDP on the military, followed by the African nation of Eritrea with 8.6 percent and Saudi Arabia with 8.2 percent. South Korea ranked 48th with 2.5 percent.
In absolute terms, however, the North's annual military spending during the period ranked only 36th in the world, while South Korea's ranked 11th, spending an average $26 billion. The U.S. was by far the world's No. 1 with $656 billion a year on average, way ahead of runner-up China's $88.5 billion.
In 2012 alone, the U.S. military expenditures amounted to $724, while China's totaled $12.6. North Korea's 2012 military spending came to $3.85 billion, while South Korea's expenditures totaled $31.9 billion, according to the report.
North Korea also ranked first in the number of troops relative to population, with 1.17 million troops. The number also represented the third largest after China's 2.21 million and the United States' 1.41 million. South Korea ranked seventh with 679,000 troops.
The U.S. was by far the biggest arms exporter in the world, selling an average $102.4 billion worth of weapons to foreign countries a year during the period. Russia came next but trailed with only $6.8 billion worth of exports.
North Korea ranked 27th on the list, with $100 million of annual arms exports. But Pyongyang's arms exports accounted for 10.2 percent of its total exports, making the country the No. 1 in terms of the proportion of weapons to total exports. (Yonhap)