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S. Korean economy contracts 1st time in 22 years amid pandemic

TOKYO, Jan 26 (KUNA) -- South Korea's economy shrank 1.0 percent in 2020 from a year earlier, the worst performance in 22 years amid the COVID-19 pandemic, Yonhap News Agency reported Tuesday, citing the central bank.
The figure marks the worst on-year growth since 1998, when the nation's gross domestic product (GDP) contracted 5.1 percent in the aftermath of the Asian financial crisis, according to advance data from the Bank of Korea (BOK).
However, it is slightly better than the BOK's projection of a 1.1 percent contraction for last year.
The BOK expects Asia's fourth-largest economy to grow three percent this year, higher than its previous forecast of a 2.8 percent expansion.
Finance Minister Hong Nam-ki said the coronavirus-hit economy ended 2020 with a contraction, but a modest recovery in exports paved the way for recovery for this year.
However, sluggish consumption at home, mainly due to the third wave of coronavirus outbreaks that began in mid-November last year, has undermined prospects of a strong recovery, Hong said in a Facebook post shortly after the data was released. (end) mk.aa