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North’s economy contracts for 9th straight year

Asia Pulse/Yonhap, Asia Times, 27 August 1999

SEOUL—North Korea’s economy declined for the ninth consecutive year last year, the South Korean central bank said in a report compiled with help from government agencies on North Korean affairs.

North Korea’s economy, based on actual gross domestic product (GDP), dipped 1.1 percent last year after posting negative growth of 6.8 percent in 1997. Recovery in farm products and fisheries and better output in the manufacturing sector were attributed to last year’s relative improvement, the Bank of Korea said.

The economic gap between the two Koreas narrowed slightly, with the South suffering negative growth of 5.8 percent due to the financial crisis.

The North’s nominal gross national income (GNI) totaled 17.59 trillion won ($14.7 billion), or 1/25th of the South’s. Per capita GNI stood at 802,000 won, 1/12th of the South’s. Per capita national income in the North was $573 based on the South Korean won’s value against the U.S. dollar. The North’s nominal GNI was 1/27th of South Korea’s in 1997 and per capita GNI 1/13th.

North Koreans earned an average monthly wage of 67,000 won each, compared with the South’s minimum monthly living cost of 218,000 won and 125,000 won for South Koreans on welfare.

The communist country’s trade amounted to $1.44 billion—$560 million in exports and $880 million in imports—last year, down from $2.18 billion in 1997. The trade gap with the South widened to 1/157th from 1/129th. Inter-Korean trade also plummeted 28 percent to $221.9 million last year.