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N Korea at crossroads

Shortage-hit North Korea urges China to restart freight rail lifeline

Coronavirus restrictions loosened as country struggles to feed itself

Trade across the Sino-Korean Friendship Bridge, pictured here on the Chinese side in Dandong, is vital to North Korea's isolated economy. (Photo by Shin Watanabe)

DALIAN, China -- Shortages of food and other necessities have driven North Korea to reopen its most important trade corridor with China after trying to stamp out the coronavirus with Beijing-style lockdowns and travel restrictions.

North Korean companies have asked Beijing to resume freight train service between the Chinese city of Dandong and Sinuiju in North Korea, according to a Chinese source familiar with the situation in the North. Roughly 70% of trade between the two countries -- which itself accounts for 90% of North Korea's total trade -- is conducted along that route.

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