SEOUL—North Korea’s economy grew by 0.4% in 2019, the first time Pyongyang posted positive growth in three years, South Korea’s central bank said, helped by increased construction activity and expanded agricultural output.

But North Korea watchers cautioned against reading this as a sign of a recovery for Pyongyang’s sanctions-hit economy. The period measured was before the global spread of the new coronavirus, while the country’s mining industry, once a key cash generator, recorded minus growth for the third consecutive year.



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