In this Monday, June 19, 2017, photo, cashiers work at the Potonggang department store in Pyongyang, North Korea. (AP Photo/Wong Maye-E)
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Like all North Korean adults, Song Un Pyol wears the faces of leader Kim Jong Un's father and grandfather pinned neatly to her left lapel, above her heart.Facing even more international sanctions and a flood of Chinese imports that has generated a huge trade imbalance, the North Korean economy may be in a bubble that could soon burst. Prices for gasoline imports have soared more than 200 percent in less than six months, the AP has found. The North did $2 billion in business with China in the first five months of this year alone.North Korea imports from China far more than it exports, particularly because of its energy needs. That imbalance widened dramatically this year as China cut back on buying from the North. The new U.N. sanctions will further squeeze the North's export income. Georgetown University economist William Brown says the price of rice was also up nearly 20 percent in July from May, and estimates the North is suffering an outflow of $200 million in foreign exchange every month. In the end, North Korea's economic future might lie with stores like the new Miniso.
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