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North Korea Seeks Economic Boost Amid Covid, Sanctions Pain

  • Kim Jong Un seeks new five year plan at congress in January
  • Pandemic decimates China trade for Kim’s worst GDP contraction
How Kim Jong Un might pursue the search for renewed sources of aid or a relaxing of sanctions also remains unclear.

How Kim Jong Un might pursue the search for renewed sources of aid or a relaxing of sanctions also remains unclear.

Photographer: JUNG YEON-JE/AFP via Getty Images
Updated on

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un will likely seek fresh impetus for driving growth at a ruling party congress in January after the pandemic added to the pain of sanctions that leave him with a smaller economy than the one he took over nine years ago.

After closing its borders in response to Covid-19, North Korea’s gross domestic product likely shrank 8.5% in 2020, according to a projection by Fitch Solutions. That would be the biggest contraction in data back to 1990 and would leave the economy around 9% smaller than when Kim took power with a pledge to improve people’s living standards.