SEJONG-- North Korea's nighttime lighting conditions have improved over the past decade based on satellite images, a report showed Monday, a sign that the reclusive country's economy is on the mend.

According to the report published by the state-run Korea Development Institute (KDI), satellite images taken in 1992 showed that overall luminosity at night around the North Korean capital of Pyongyang was greater than that in pictures taken in 2002, when the country was still struggling with a deep economic slump of the late 1990s.

But in pictures taken 10 years later, Pyongyang's nighttime lights were roughly on par with the 1992 level with more light actually seen in the surrounding areas.

"The change in the luminous intensity of North Korea shows that the North Korean economy made a turnaround in mid-2000," the KDI report said.

It said such satellite images of night light have been increasingly regarded as one of the best tools to demonstrate a region's urbanization, population density and economic activity, as lighting effectively reflects electricity consumption.

But the report said it has to take into account the fact that the North Korean government controls the supply of electricity so that nighttime brightness may not fully reflect the country's economic activity.

Source: Yonhap News Agency