Inter-Korean exchange, trade dropped sharply last year amid virus pandemic: ministry
SEOUL, April 28 (Yonhap) -- Trade and exchanges between South and North Korea dropped sharply last year amid the coronavirus pandemic, the unification ministry said Wednesday.
The number of South Koreans visiting the North stood at 613, while no North Korean came to the South last year, according to the "2021 Unification White Paper" released by the ministry.
The visitors were mostly staff members at the inter-Korean liaison office in the North's border town of Kaesong. The North blew up the liaison office in June last year in anger over anti-Pyongyang propaganda leaflets flown from the South.
Last year's tally contrasts with the number of exchanges in 2018, when 6,689 South Koreans visited the North while 809 North Koreans visited the South. In 2019, 9,835 South Koreans visited the North.
The number of cross-border trade transactions also stood at 45 cases last year, significantly lower than the 699 cases in 2018 and 434 cases in 2019.
Such transactions mainly included the delivery of coronavirus-related aid to the North from nongovernmental organizations and other supplies for the liaison office.
North Korea has claimed to be coronavirus-free but has taken relatively swift and tough measures against the global pandemic, such as imposing strict border controls since early last year.
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