North Korea, officially the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (abbreviated as DPRK, PRK, DPR Korea, or Korea DPR), is a country in East Asia constituting the northern part of the Korean Peninsula. Pyongyang is the capital and largest city. To the north and northwest, the country is bordered by China and by Russia along the Amnok (known as the Yalu in Chinese) and Tumen rivers; it is bordered to the south by South Korea, with the heavily fortified Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating the two. Nevertheless, North Korea, like its southern counterpart, claims to be the legitimate government of the entire peninsula and adjacent islands. Both North Korea and South Korea became members of the United Nations in 1991.
International organizations have assessed that human rights violations in North Korea are commonplace and are so severe as to have no parallel in the contemporary world. The North Korean government strongly denies most allegations, accusing international organizations of fabricating human rights abuses as part of a smear campaign with the covert intention of regime change, although they admit that there are human rights issues relating to living conditions which the government is attempting to correct.
The name Korea derives from the name Goryeo (also spelled Koryŏ). The name Goryeo itself was first used by the ancient kingdom of Goguryeo (Koguryŏ) in the 5th century as a shortened form of its name. The 10th-century kingdom of Goryeo succeeded Goguryeo, and thus inherited its name, which was pronounced by visiting Persian merchants as "Korea". The modern spelling of Korea first appeared in the late 17th century in the travel writings of the Dutch East India Company's Hendrick Hamel.
After the division of the country into North and South Korea, the two sides used different terms to refer to Korea: Chosun or Joseon (조선) in North Korea, and Hanguk (한국) in South Korea. In 1948, North Korea adopted Democratic People's Republic of Korea (조선민주주의인민공화국/朝鮮民主主義人民共和國Chosŏn Minjujuŭi Inmin Konghwaguk; listen) as its new legal name. In the wider world, because the government controlled the northern part of the Korean Peninsula, it is commonly called North Korea to distinguish it from South Korea, which is officially called the Republic of Korea in English.