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N Korea at crossroads

Seoul says there is panic buying in North Korea

Kim Jong Un conducts duties, but economy under pressure

North Korean citizens seen wearing masks in front of Pyongyang Station on April 1.   © Kyodo

SEOUL -- Disruptions in the North Korean economy from plunging trade have led to a surge in prices, with Pyongyang residents panic buying daily necessities, South Korea's spy agency said Wednesday.

Trade between North Korea and China dropped 91% on the year in March, the National Intelligence Service said, in the wake of the North closing its border in late January to prevent the coronavirus from entering the country. Prices for condiments and other imports have soared, prompting the nation to enact measures to stabilize prices, according to the intelligence agency.

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