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North Korean economy shrinks 4.5%, worst slump under Kim Jong Un

Pandemic, sanctions and severe flooding inflict a triple blow

A North Korean soldier patrols the border with China in April. The regime closed the border in January 2020, a move that sharply curtailed trade.   © Kyodo

SEOUL -- North Korea's economy contracted by 4.5% last year, according to an estimate released on Friday by South Korea's central bank, marking the biggest downturn under Kim Jong Un's regime as the country faced sanctions, severe weather and fallout from the coronavirus pandemic.

The slump is the second worst since the Bank of Korea began releasing such figures in 1991. Real gross domestic product shrank by 6.5% in 1997 during the height of the North Korean famine.

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