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Once home to 'Japanese car killer,' South Korea's auto sector in decline

Annual output nears 4m minimum needed to sustain industrial base

A worker at GM Korea, which shut down one of its three South Korean plants last year.   © Reuters

SEOUL -- Cutbacks by foreign automakers are threatening to slash South Korea's annual vehicle production to below 4 million, a threshold that could doom an industry that accounts for about a fifth of the country's gross domestic product.

As the global car industry goes through a major downturn -- activity at carmakers was at a near record low in August -- driven in part by the U.S.-China trade war, factories in South Korea are being hit particularly hard.

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