Starving but armed to the teeth

North Korea is one of the most literate countries in the world, with an average literacy rate of 99%. Yet in its 2010 report, Reporters Without Borders ranked its freedom of the press as 177th out of 178. Food rations, housing, healthcare, and education are offered by the state for free, and the payment of taxes has been abolished since April 1, 1974. The average official salary is equivalent to $12 per month, and many hospitals and clinics lack essential medicines, equipment, running water and electricity. Despite this North Korea has the fourth largest army in the world, fissile material for nuclear weapons, and the capability to deploy nuclear warheads on intermediate-range ballistic missiles.