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N Korea at crossroads

North Korea economy declines at sharpest rate in 20 years in 2017

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un gives field guidance during his visit to the Chongjin Shipyard in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency in Pyongyang on July 17.   © Reuters

SEOUL (Reuters) -- North Korea's economy contracted at the sharpest rate in two decades in 2017, South Korea's central bank estimated on Friday, in a clear sign international sanctions imposed to stop Pyongyang's nuclear and missile programmes have hit growth hard.

Gross domestic product (GDP) in North Korea last year contracted 3.5 percent from the previous year, marking the biggest contraction since a 6.5 percent drop in 1997 when the isolated nation was going through a devastating famine, the Bank of Korea said.

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