( AP ) - A U.N. agency will begin counting North Korea's population in October in its first census in the reclusive country in 15 years, a South Korean official said Monday.
North Korea's official media occasionally release population figures but their accuracy has been questioned because it is unclear whether they include people serving in the military and labor camps, said Sohn Hyun-jin, an official at South Korea's Unification Ministry.
In April last year, he said, North Korea agreed to allow the U.N. Population Fund to undertake a yearlong census for the first time since 1993 - before an estimated 2 million people died in a famine that began in the mid-1990s caused by natural disasters and economic mismanagement.
A 2007 yearbook published by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency says its population was 23.6 million in 2004, according to South Korea's Yonhap news agency. The CIA World Factbook estimated there were 23.3 million people in North Korea in July 2007.
South Korea will pay $4 million of the expected $5.6 million cost of the new U.N. census, the Unification Ministry said.