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N. Korea stages trade fair in special economic zone

RASON, North Korea -- North Korea is staging its second international trade fair in the special economic zone of Rason this week just days after a top official went to China to drum up support for the region.

A year after the first fair, there are signs of development in the area near the borders of China, Russia and North Korea, including a newly paved road making it easier for Chinese investors to travel to the remote area in North Korea's far northeast.

Rason was earmarked years ago as a special economic zone but became the focus of renewed activity after North Korea revised laws in 2010 and 2011.

Building the economy has been a main government policy since 2009 around the time late leader Kim Jong Il tapped son Kim Jong Un to succeed him.

North Korea's economy has languished since the Soviet collapse, in sharp contrast to the rest of Northeast Asia, and Pyongyang increasingly turned to China for help. Last week, Kim Jong Un's uncle led a high-profile visit to China to discuss investment.

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