News



DATE=6/15/98
TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT
NUMBER=2-233914
TITLE=NORTH KOREA/ ECONOMY (L-ONLY)
BYLINE=JOHN LARKIN
DATELINE=SEOUL
CONTENT=
VOICED AT:  

INTRO:  NEW FIGURES SUGGEST NORTH KOREA'S ECONOMY IS IN SERIOUS 
DECLINE.  JOHN LARKIN REPORTS FROM SEOUL THAT THE STALINIST 
NATION'S ECONOMY CONTRACTED IN 1997 FOR THE EIGHTH STRAIGHT YEAR.

TEXT:  THE NORTH'S ECONOMY SHRANK TWO-POINT-SIX PERCENT LAST 
YEAR, CONTINUING A TREND WHICH BEGAN IN THE EARLY 1990'S, AFTER 
COMMUNISM COLLAPSED IN THE FORMER SOVIET UNION AND EASTERN 
EUROPE, DEPRIVING NORTH KOREA OF SUBSIDIES AND CHEAP IMPORTS FROM
ITS FORMER ALLIES.

THE LATEST ROUND OF BAD NEWS ABOUT THE RECLUSIVE STALINIST 
NATION'S ECONOMY IS BASED ON ESTIMATES PREPARED BY SOUTH KOREA'S 
CENTRAL BANK.  THE NORTH RARELY ISSUES ITS OWN STATISTICS. THE 
SOIUTH KOREAN BANK COLLATES DATA FROM THE NORTH'S TRADING 
PARTNERS EACH YEAR TO BUILD AN ECONOMIC PICTURE.

THE FIGURES HIGHLIGHT THE YAWNING ECONOMIC GULF BETWEEN THE 
CAPITALIST SOUTH AND COMMUNIST NORTH, DESPITE A SEVERE ECONOMIC 
CRISIS IN SOUTH KOREA, WHICH IS EXPECTED TO WORSEN THIS YEAR.

THE NORTH'S 1997 GROSS NATIONAL PRODUCT TOTALED ONLY 12 BILLION 
DOLLARS.  THIS IS ABOUT ONE-25TH [1/25TH, OR FOUR PERCENT] OF 
SOUTH KOREA'S G-N-P FOR THE SAME YEAR.

THE NORTH POSTED A 360-MILLION-DOLLAR TRADE DEFICIT, DUE MAINLY 
TO INCREASED FOOD IMPORTS BROUGHT IN TO OVERCOME A DEVASTATING 
FOOD SHORTAGE.

THE PICTURE WAS NOT ALWAYS SO GRIM FOR PYONGYANG.  AT ONE POINT 
AFTER THE 1950 TO 1953 WAR IN KOREA, THE COMMUNIST NORTH HAD A 
BIGGER ECONOMY THAN SOUTH KOREA.

BUT THE DISAPPEARANCE OF NORTH KOREA'S COMMUNIST ALLIES, FAMINE 
AND THE COST OF MAINTAINING THE WORLD'S FIFTH-LARGEST MILITARY 
FORCE HAS LAID WASTE TO PYONGYANG'S ECONOMY. 

IF REUNIFICATION IS ACHIEVED ANY TIME SOON, THE NORTH'S DECLINE 
WOULD SADDLE RECESSION-HIT SOUTH KOREA WITH THE IMPOSSIBLE TASK 
OF ABSORBING A CRIPPLED ECONOMY.  SOUTH KOREAN PRESIDENT KIM 
DAE-JUNG IS TRYING TO BOOST TRADE , IN AN EFFORT TO BOOST THE 
NORTH'S ECONOMY.   (SIGNED)

NEB/JL/GC/FC/WTW

15-Jun-98 7:22 AM EDT (1122 UTC)
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Source: Voice of America
.