North Korea’s economy just grew at the fastest pace since 1999

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. Photo: STR/ AFP/ Getty Images.

The North Korean economy expanded at the fastest pace since 1999 last year, aided by booming growth in military spending.

According to estimates from the Bank of Korea (BoK), South Korea’s central bank, GDP in the communist state expanded by 3.9% over the year, driven by stronger activity across activity levels across the nation’s mining, manufacturing and utilities, along with military spending.

“North Korea’s missiles and development of weapons of mass destruction are measured as investment and production and support GDP growth,” Shin Seung-cheol, an official at the BOK’s economic statistics department, told Bloomberg.

Missile tests could also be included in government spending, Shin said, adding that it’s hard to tell from the data when the weapons were developed, or how many weapons there are.

The BoK uses data from its intelligence agency and unification ministry to estimate levels of economic growth. So it’s a guide as to what may have happened on the ground, not what actually happened on the ground.

It estimated that per capita income in the north stood at 1.46 million South Korean won, or $US1,300.

Bloomberg has more here.