North Korea’s reliance on China for trade deepened last year afterSouth Korea severed most ties with Pyongyang, accusing it of torpedoing of one of its warships, a think-tank said Wednesday.
The state Korea Development Institute said in a report the North’s trade with China was worth $3.47 billion last year, up 29.3 percent from a year earlier.
Such trade accounted for 56.9 percent of its total trade of $6.09 billion last year, up from 52.6 percent in 2009.
The trend intensified this year, with the value of North Korea-China trade nearly doubling to $1.43 billion during the first four months from the same period a year earlier.
This was mainly due to a sharp rise in the North’s coal exports, the institute said.
In contrast, the North’s exports to South Korea plunged from an average $40 million per month in January-May last year to a mere $1 million per month in the first four months of this year.
“The North drastically expanded exports of such strategic materials as coal to China” after its trade with the South was almost cut off, the report said.
Seoul suspended almost all trade with its neighbour in May last year after accusing it of sinking a South Korean warship near the disputed Yellow Sea border and killing 46 sailors. Pyongyang denies involvement.
Tensions rose further when the North shelled a frontline South Korean island in November, killing four people including two civilians.