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N. Korea's Imports of Mobile Phones Soar, Trade Group Says

FILE - A North Korean couple use their smartphone to photograph fireworks in Pyongyang, July 27, 2014.

North Korea imported a record amount of mobile phones from China last year, including smartphones.

The Korea International Trade Association (KITA), a nonprofit group based in Seoul, said Friday that North Korea imported $83 million worth of mobile phones in 2014. That was almost double the figure from a year ago, when the North imported $44 million worth of mobile phones from China.

The latest figure was also the largest since 2007, when KITA started tracking the mobile phone trade between the two neighbors.

Since Kim Jong Un came to power in 2011, the use of mobile phones and tablets has reportedly skyrocketed among the North’s elite in the capital, Pyongyang.

As of last June, more than 2.4 million North Koreans were thought to be using mobile phones. That number accounted for almost 10 percent of North Korea's population.

Jee Abbey Lee contributed to this report.