The North Korean economy grew for the first time in three years in 2019 following a sharp contraction in the previous two years, but its per capita income gap with South Korea widened further, the South Korean government data found.
According to a report released by Statistics Korea on Monday, the nominal gross domestic production (GDP) in North Korea rose 0.4 percent last year from the previous year to 35.3 trillion won ($32.2 billion). The growth came after the economy had shrunk 3.5 percent in 2017 and 4.1 percent in 2018 due to the poor crop yields and strengthened international sanctions.
South Korea’s nominal GDP in 2019 was 1,919 trillion won, 54 times greater than that of the North.
The statistics bureau said the increased output from construction, agriculture, forestry and fisheries and service sectors contributed to the overall economic growth of the reclusive regime.
North Korea’s per capita gross national income (GNI) was 1.41 million won last year, losing 20,000 won from 2018. It was one twenty-seventh of South Korea’s 37.44 million won. The per capita income gap between South and North Korea widened from 21 times in 2009, 23 times in 2015 and 26 times in 2018.
Crop yields in North Korea came at 4.64 million tons in 2019, higher than 4.38 million tons in the South. But the North’s rice output was 2.24 million tons, about 60 percent of that of the South.
Coal production increased 11.8 percent on year to 20.21 million tons last year.
North Korea’s trade volume totaled $3.24 billion in 2019, up 14.1 percent from the previous year when its trade shriveled 48.8 percent due to the United Nation’s sanctions.
Watches and watch components that are not subject to the sanctions accounted for the biggest share of 17.8 percent of its total exports, up 57.9 percent from the previous year.
Its biggest imports were mineral fuel and oil that took up 11.7 percent. Amid food shortage, grain imports soared 242 percent on year.
China, the North’s closest ally, accounted for 95.4 percent of its entire trade volume. Russia took 1.5 percent, Vietnam 0.9 percent and India 0.4 percent.
North Korea’s population was estimated at 25.25 million as of last year, compared to 51.71 million in South Korea.
The life expectancy of male North Koreans was 66.7 and female 73.5. They live 10 or more years shorter than South Koreans who were expected to live to 80 years for male and 85.9 years for female.
Its total fertility rate from 2015 to 2020 came at 1.91, higher than South Korea’s 1.11, according to the U.N.
The number of college students per 10,000 stood at 202, about a third of that of South Korea.
By Choi Mira
[? Pulse by Maeil Business News Korea & mk.co.kr, All rights reserved]