Trade volume between North Korea and its major trading partner China reached a record US$6.45 billion last year, up 10.4 percent from a year earlier, data showed Saturday.
North Korean exports to China jumped 17.2 percent on-year, while imports from China increased 5.4 percent, according to the data from the Korea International Trade Association.
Pyongyang's trade deficit recorded $721 million, a 25 percent decrease compared with the previous year, the data showed.
North Korea's major export items were minerals, with $1.37 billion worth of anthracite and $294.1 million of iron ore shipped to China last year.
North Korea's anthracite exports are a major source of income, and China is virtually the only destination for the shipments.
The isolated socialist state heavily relied on China for crude oil, buying $598.1 million from its sole financial and diplomatic backer.
Inbound shipments of China-made cell phones fell to $44 million last year, shrinking by 26.6 percent from a year ago.
The latest data showed the heavily sanctioned North Korea is increasingly reliant on China, even though the Asian giant has become frustrated with its wayward neighbor, particularly after Pyongyang's third nuclear test early last year.
Beijing voted in favor of tougher United Nations sanctions to punish Pyongyang for conducting the nuclear test.