Archive for the ‘South Korea’ Category

Hyundai Asan losses in the DPRK

Tuesday, November 18th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

Hyundai Asan Corp., the company that pioneered inter-Korean commercial ties, said Tuesday that its loss from the suspension of its North Korea tour programs is estimated at nearly 1 trillion won (US$909 million) over the past six years.

The company said on the eve of the 16th anniversary of starting the tours to Mount Kumgang on North Korea’s east coast that it has also been forced to reduce its workforce by up to 73 percent.

Before visits were stopped, the company employed 1,084 people to handle tours to Mount Kumgang and the city of Kaesong, but the staff has been slashed to just 285. Kaesong was the capital of the Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392).

The estimate is based on the assumption that some 300,000 tourists would have visited the scenic mountain and seaside resort on an annual basis if the ban was not placed. For Kaesong, Hyundai Asan said the loss in earnings was calculated on the premise that some 100,000 people would have visited the city per year.

Seoul banned all tourists from visiting the isolated country after a North Korean guard shot a South Korean visitor dead in July 2008 at Mount Kumgang. South Korea said the North must formally apologize for the mishap and assure that the tragedy will not occur in the future.

Tourists first started visiting the mountains in November 1998 and by 2008, over 1.93 million made the trip to the North.

“The halt in tourism to the mountain resort has cost the company 809.4 billion won, while losses brought on by a ban on tourism to the ancient city of Kaesong on the west coast, has ballooned to 125.2 billion won with the total reaching 934.7 billion won,” the company said. They added that if tours do not resume soon, the loss in earnings will reach the 1 trillion won mark.

The halt in tourism is particularly painful because the company, part of the larger Hyundai Group, invested 226.8 billion won in various facility investments and US$486.69 million to acquire land and operational rights from Pyongyang.

Hyundai Asan said that despite troubles, it has a plan in place that can restart tours in two months, with its top executives still hoping that cross-border relations will improve so operations can resume.

Read the full story here:
Hyundai Asan faces 1 tln won loss on N. Korea tour suspension
Yonhap
2014-11-18

Share

ROK-KIC road reportedly in bad shape

Tuesday, October 14th, 2014

ROK-KIC-Road-2013-10-13

 

Pictured Above (Google Earth): The road linking the KIC and South Korea

According to the Daily NK:

A bridge and northern parts of a road and connecting South and North Korea built by Pyongyang, for which Seoul provided 25.3 billion KRW [23.6 million USD] worth construction materials and equipment, are in decrepit conditions, according to documents obtained by a South Korean lawmaker.

“A strip [5km] of the northern side of the road connecting to the Kaesong Industrial Complex and parts of Tongil Bridge [220m] are extremely run-down, with cracks and severe forms of distortion,” representative Ha Tae Keung from the ruling Saenuri Party said, citing data submitted by Korea Land and Housing Corporation and Korea Expressway Corporation on Thursday. “However, the southern part of the project [5.1km], which cost us 68 billion KRW [63 million USD] is in good condition,” he stated.

“According to safety tests, the bridge and road are expected to progressively deteriorate, raising concerns of a major accident,” Ha said. “We may face another disaster such as the Seongsu Bridge collapse [in South Korea in 1994].”

The connecting road from South Korea to the inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Park in the North began in September 2002 and was completed in 14 months. Seoul put 68 billion KRW [63 million USD] behind the project for its side and provided 25.3 billion KRW [23.6 million USD] worth of construction materials and equipment for Pyongyang to build its section.

Read the full story here:
Dilapidated Roads to Kaesong a Major Safety Concern
Daily NK
Lee Sang Yong
2014-10-14

Share

Senior DPRK officials to visit Seoul for close of Asian Games

Friday, October 3rd, 2014

UPDATE 2 (2014-10-9): AEI’s Nick Ebestasdt offers analysis on the delegation visit:

Once again the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (aka DPRK or North Korea) is back in the news—and this time it did not secure global headlines by testing a nuclear device, or shooting rockets near its neighbors, or threatening to turn Seoul/Tokyo/Washington/etc. into a sea of fire.

Instead the world’s only ever Communist-dictatorship-cum-hereditary-Asian-dynasty has piqued international curiosity through the conjuncture of a carefully staged diplomatic event and a potentially important domestic non-event.

The event was the surprise visit by an 11 person North Korean delegation to the South—ostensibly to attend the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon, but in reality to propose a resumption of inter-Korean dialogue, which has been in a deep freeze since the 2013 inauguration of President Park Guen Hye.

The non-event is the disappearance from public view of North Korea’s “Dear Respected Leader” Kim Jong Un. At this writing, Dear Respected was last seen in public on September 3—over a month ago. Although North Korean footage of Dear Respected is always carefully doctored, he was last seen walking with a limp. He was a no-show for the Supreme People’s Assembly on September 25, a ceremony whose pageantry he would ordinarily be expected to figure in, if not center around. North Korean authorities, a group not known for indulging in glasnost, have offered no official explanation for this prolonged public absence. The most the officialdom has had to say so far is that Kim Jong Un is “suffering from discomfort,” as state television put it last week.

Unsurprisingly, both Western media and those who call themselves “North Korea experts” have been in an economy-class dither over these two developments, speculating about what each of them might mean—and also trying to fabricate a link between them. By one rumor, Dear Respected has gotten so fat that he has broken both his ankles falling off his fancy elevated shoes. No, says another whisper—he is gravely ill and his sister is in charge. Wrong again, insists a third—there has been a coup, and he has been deposed by the military. That is why the North Koreans have sent all these military types to Seoul for talks!

Having followed North Korean affairs for over thirty years myself, I have to confess that there is nothing new about the current jumble of conflicting and sometimes outlandish guesses that passes as commentary on North Korean current events. Given the DPRK government’s ruthless control and manipulation of information—two of the few things Pyongyang can actually do well—outsiders are often left more or less divining signs from chicken entrails. Add to the mix the South Korean intelligence community’s unhealthy but longstanding history of attempting to play the local and global press in accordance with its own short term agenda, and one can see how easy it is for unseasoned reporters, or even more inveterate “North Korea hands,” to get caught up in a hologram of lies.

Early on in my own research, I realized that one had to approach the North Korean puzzle as if one were in a Miss Marple murder mystery, that is to say, by proceeding under the assumption that everyone is a liar and has their own reason for misrepresenting the truth. If one starts with that premise, and takes William of Ockham as one’s guiding star, you have a chance of figuring out what is going on—but only a chance.

With this in mind, let’s start by trying to make sense of Dear Respected’s continuing absence from the propaganda stage. Is this the first time he has gone missing from action in this fashion? No. In his brief reign—since the Dear Leader’s passing in late 2011—he has been secluded from his adoring local fans at least twice before. Moreover, both his father and his grandfather made it a habit of disappearing from public view, too. Of course, rumors would fly: Kim Il Sung is dying of cancer from the big wen on the back of his neck; Kim Jong Il has died in a car crash; no, Kim Jong Il has fallen off a horse and is now a zombie. Such speculation—or should we say, wishful thinking?—always proved to be wrong. Each and every time, the Supreme Leader has come back on camera. We outsiders must recognize the obvious truth that we know so little about the dynamics of North Korean rule that we cannot even explain ex post facto why these various and repeated Kim eclipses took place. Of course, there is always a first time. This time, Dear Respected’s public hiatus may be different. But this would be a first.

And what about the North Korean delegation’s surprise visit? To begin, the North always tries to do things by surprise—that is how Pyongyang keeps control of the show. (It’s no surprise that the South Korean side would do anything they could to accommodate a North Korean official delegation—any open democracy would likewise do whatever it could to accommodate the possibility of dialogue with an implacably hostile neighbor.)The North Korean delegation certainly came south to do something more than admire the sports show—but the notion that they were coming to announce a change of regime, as some have suggested, is silly season at its silliest.

Many writers have noted the heavy military and security complexion of the visiting team, which reportedly includes the number two man in the DPRK military, the former head of the North Korean People’s army, and a fellow who might be the spy chief of the police state. Military plot? Hardly. In a state like the DPRK, most of the important jobs perforce are military, security, and intelligence. And note, inter alia, that all of these heavyweights are members of the DPRK Workers’ Party Central Committee. They’re Party boys, though not in the sense we use in Western universities. Like all other Marxist-Leninist states, North Korea’s political Party keeps the military on a tight choke chain: no one in command wants to see their regime overturned by an Asian variant of Julius Caesar or Napoleon Bonaparte. Highly decorated as they may be, these men are errand boys sent south to do their masters’ bidding.

And just what might that bidding be? If William of Ockham were wielding his famous Razor, the parsimonious surmise might whittle our guesses down to be: money. As we know from other sources, the North Korean state has become desperately dependent on the largesse of just one power: China. As we know from other sources, North Korea has never in its entire history been as desperately dependent on the largesse of a single benefactor as it is on China today. Since North Korea is perennially in need of external support, diversifying those sources of subvention is now a state imperative. To judge from early reportage, the visiting North Korean fundraising show has not done so badly on its southern tour: according to news accounts, Seoul has already been talking about easing economic sanctions, and even possibly resuming the lucrative tours to the North that were shut down after that unfortunate deadly shooting of a South Korean visitor by a guard on a beach.

The DPRK delegation may of course have more in mind than just money—South Korea has so much more to give, including its territory and its very sovereignty! But as a first guess, extracting money for the mothership may not be such a bad one.

Long ago, a memorable South Korean booklet described North Korea as “the land that never changes.” Appealing as that title may be, it is highly misleading. North Korea is constantly—in fact, almost incessantly—in flux. It has buried two Supreme Leaders, and may be working on a third. It has experienced the first-ever mass famine in any urbanized literate society during peacetime. It has achieved the most epic long-term economic fail of any standing state in the modern era. It is the first country with a Sahelian-style international trade performance profile to test nuclear weapons. And just last December, with great fanfare, it publicly announced its first-ever execution of an inner member of the royal family.

Things are always changing in North Korea. It is instead our inability to understand this country that seems to be the unchanging factor in the equation.

UPDATE 1 (2014-10-6): Following the buzz of speculation around the DPRK delegation visit to the ROK, ships exchange warning shots. According to the BBC:

North and South Korean ships exchanged warning shots after a North Korean patrol boat crossed a disputed maritime border, say officials from the south.

The incident happened around 10:00 local time (03:00 BST) on Tuesday, said South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.

It comes three days after North Korean officials agreed to resume high-level talks with the South.

Here is coverage in the JoongAng Ilbo.

Original Post (2014-10-3): According to Reuters:

Three senior North Korean officials will make a rare visit to South Korea on Saturday to attend the Asian Games closing ceremony in what could potentially bring a breakthrough in tense ties between the rival Koreas.

Heading the delegation will be Hwang Pyong So and Choe Ryong Hae, who are senior aides to North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un, South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman told a news briefing.

The announcement of the visit comes as a surprise because Pyongyang has been issuing invectives toward the South and President Park Geun-hye, criticising her calls for Pyongyang to end its arms programme and improve human rights conditions.

Hwang is the head of the North Korean army’s General Political Department, a powerful apparatus loyal to the secretive country’s leader and a key post overseeing the 1.2-million-member military.

Here is coverage in the Associated Press.

Here is coverage in Yonhap.

Here is coverage in the New York Times.

Here is coverage in the Korea Times.

Here is coverage in the Washington Post.

Here is Aidan Foster Carter in NK News.

Interesting analysis on the story in the Daily NK which provides a rational for the visit based on domestic politics.

Here is coverage in The Diplomat.

Additional Information

1. NK Leadership Watch has bios of the men: Hwang Pyong So, Choe Ryong HaeKim Yang Gon

2. Here are bios on Wikipedia: Hwang Pyong So, Choe Ryong hae, Kim Yang Gon

3. Here is the South Korean MOU leadership organization chart where you can see these individual’s positions within the system.

4. Andray Abrahamian writing in 38 North last year on sports.

Share

2014 Inter-Korean development plans

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

According to the Daily NK:

The Ministry of Unification released its plans for the 2014 Inter-Korean Development Program on August 18th. 96 new enterprises are among the proposals stipulated in the report’s 30 articles.

The chief components of the plan include:

1. the establishment of a channel for consistent Inter-Korean dialogue
2. a solution for the Separated Families issue
3. provision of humanitarian aid geared towards North Korean citizens
4. adherence to international regulations through a cooperative exchange system
5. the restoration of national solidarity through sociocultural exchanges
6. expanding other ongoing inter-Korean economic collaboration projects
7. normalization of Kaesong Industrial Park operations and
8. tailoring refugee resettlement funds to individual defector needs.

In a statement about the plan, a Ministry of Unification official said, “There is much significance in the fact that this proposal was a government-wide effort; a total of 24 administrative bodies came together to formulate these ideas and strategies.”

The comprehensive program also included detailed plans for the repair and renovation of the Kaesong-Pyongyang Expressway and the Kaesong-Sinuiju Railway. The premise of the official Inter-Korean Development Program has always been to improve overall conditions in the North while fostering better relations between North and South, but this most recent plan is the first to delineate detailed plans for large-scale investments in infrastructure.

Expansion of other inter-Korean economic collaborations were also outlined, such as:
1. Kaesong-Sinuiju railroad and Kaesong-Pyongyang railroad repairs
2. Imjin River flood prevention business
3. Food and Agriculture Organization [FAO] support of the North Korean fishing industry
4. proposals such as vitalization of inter-Korean shipping are included. In addition, depending on the situation, 5. they plan to gradually introduce reopening trade and commerce, resumption of basic economic cooperation and, launching of new businesses.

A continued dedication to improving human rights in North Korea was also announced, starting with continued pressure on lawmakers to overcome the impasse and pass the North Korean Human Rights Act. The proposed law first appeared in 2005 but has since stagnated in the National Assembly due to failure by ruling and opposition parties to reach a consensus. Additional plans to increase support to private organizations advocating human rights in North Korea as well as striving to implement the recent recommendations by the UN based on the Commission of Inquiry [COI] findings on human rights in North Korea.

The South Korean government expressed its intentions to improve the quality of life for North Korean residents by increasing humanitarian aid and support. Most notably, the South vowed to separate political and humanitarian issues, ensuring that vulnerable social groups receive the support they need, regardless of tensions on the Korean peninsula.

Read the full story here:
Report: 2014 Inter-Korean Development Plans
Daily NK
Koo Jun Hoe
2014-8-19

Share

DPRK tightens entry rules in Kaesong factory park

Friday, July 18th, 2014

Apparently out of fear that the Keasong Industrial Complex might be used to subvert national security, the DPRK is instituting new rules for South Koreans entering the park. According to Yonhap:

“The North notified the management committee for the Kaesong Industrial Complex of its plan to tighten entry rules starting on Friday,” said the ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs.

Under the stricter rules, South Korean workers are subject to a one-day entry denial if they are found carrying prohibited materials critical of the North Korean regime or automobile black boxes.

Those who don’t abide by entry rules by failing to cover up their car license plates or deviating from regular entry allowance hours will also be put under entry denial of up to two days, according to the ministry.

The North has also hinted at the possibility of punishing South Korean companies operating in the Kaesong complex, depending on the level of future entry rule violations, the ministry said.

Currently, North Korea fines South Korean workers US$100 for carrying cell phones, while failure to abide by entry hours is subject to a $50 fine.

The toughened rules also came despite Seoul’s pronounced opposition to the unilateral decision.

Seoul has previously expressed its opposition and demanded the changes be discussed bilaterally, but the North has unilaterally issued the notification, officials said.

Read the full story here:
N. Korea tightens entry rules in Kaesong factory park
Yonhap
2014-7-18

Share

Kumgang Resort operational status (UPDATED)

Monday, July 14th, 2014

Pictured above (Google Earth): April 2010 satellite imagery of the Kumgang tourist resort

The Kumgang resort was receiving 400,000 visitors per year until in July 2008 it became the scene of a terrible tragedy, the shooting of a South Korean tourist. Following the incident, the South Korean government prohibited its citizens from visiting the resort until the DPRK allowed a joint-Korean investigation of the shooting and made a guarantee of future safety.  The DPRK never agreed to these terms so the park fell idle.

The suspension of the project has cost the DPRK government millions of dollars. In response it has moved to pressure the ROK government to change course and allow the tours to resume. Below I have kept a timeline of the course of these events and their outcomes.

___________

2014-7-14: The Hankyoreh marks July 11–the 6th anniversary of the day when tours to Mt. Keumgang in North Korea were suspended. 

“As a result of the suspension of tourism to Mt. Keumgang, we have lost nearly 1 trillion won [US$981 million], including the 300 billion won [US$294.32 million] invested in the facilities and an estimated 530 billion won in lost revenue,” the investors said. They urged the governments of North and South Korea to immediately hold working-level talks to resume tourism to Mt. Keumgang and to hold reunions for divided families.

“The position of the government is that the issue of the safety of its citizens must be resolved before it can allow tours to Mt. Keumgang to resume. In addition, given the continuing UN Security Council sanctions in response to North Korea’s nuclear and missile testing, which occurred after tours to Mt. Keumgang were halted, we think that the tours cannot be resumed until the government indicates that doing so would not be in violation of UN sanctions,” said Ministry of Unification spokesperson Kim Ui-do during a regular press briefing on July 11.

2012-11-27: The Hankyoreh reports that North Korea provided a written guarantee for the safety of tourists at Mt. Kumkang during 2010 working level talks with the South Korean government.

2011-9-6: South Korea asks foreigners not to invest in Kumgang saying such investments would violate existing property rights.

2011-9-6: Park Chol-su, head of Daepung International Investment Group, said he wants to discuss with South Korea’s Hyundai Asan how to handle its assets at the North’s Mount Kumgang.

2011-8-31: Chinese tourists arrive in Kumgang on Mangyongbong.

2011-8-30: South Korea calls for international boycott of Kumgangsan resort

2011-8-28: Taephung Investment Group outlines new Kumgang business plan

2011-8-24: Kumgang opened to DPRK and Chinese toursits

2011-8-23: South Korean workers leave Kumgang

2011-8-22: DPRK orders expulsion of remaining South Korean staff, auctioning of assets

2011-8-19: Hyundai officials visit Kumgang amid dispute over fate of company assets

2011-8-6: Steve Parks claims he has signed an MOU with the DPRK government

2011-6-2: “DPRK Law on Special Zone for International Tour of Mt. Kumgang” released. PDF of the statute here.

2011-4-29: SPA designates Kumgang special zone

2011-4-1: DPRK rescinds Hyundai’s Kumgang contract rights

2010-11-15: Kumgang re-fozen

2010-10-31: Family reuniuons were held there in October/November

2010-8-7: DPRK using Kumgagn assets to serve tourists in the North

2010-5-16: Taephung shows Chinese investors Kumgang

2010-5-3: Most South Korean and Chinese employees leave

2010-4-25: The National Defense Commission takes over the properties and puts the Korea Taepung International Investment Group in charge of attracting investors and tourists to the resort.

2010-4-23: Seoul denounces the seizure

2010-4-11: Chinese tourists began arriving at the resort (here and here).

2010-4-11: Employees told to leave/sealed up

2010-4-11:The DPRK “seizes” the Hyundai properties in the Kumgang resort

2010-3-24: Investors worried about losing out

2010-3-18: DPRK threatens to seize Kumgang Resort

2010-3-18: Hyundai-Asan’s chief offers to resign

2010-3-10: DPRK threatens to revoke contracts with South Korean partner, Hyundai-Asan

Share

ROK private sector aid to the DPRK at low

Monday, June 16th, 2014

ROK-DPRK-aid-Hankyoreh

According to the Hankyoreh:

In terms of levels of private-sector [interchanges], the situation is even worse than the previous all-time low under the Lee administration. According to the annual White Paper on unification published in March, the total amount of private aid to North Korea authorized by the Ministry of Unification in 2013 stood at 5.1 billion won (US$5million). This amount not only pales in comparison to the 90.9 billion won (US$89.3million) okayed in 2007, the last year of the Roh Moo-hyun administration, but is only one-sixth the 31.0 billion won ($30.5 million) annual average during the Lee years. Even in 2011 and 2012, years when interchange and cooperation with North Korea were banned under the May 24 measures adopted in the wake of the ROKS Cheonan sinking, aid from NGOs amounted to 13.1 billion won (US$12.9million) and 11.8 billion won (US$411.6million), respectively. Between 120,000 and 180,000 people traveled between the Koreas under the Lee administration in comparison with last year’s total of 76,000. The Ministry of Unification is calling the numbers misleading.

“Last year, there was not any real aid to North Korea until August because all ties had been cut off after their third nuclear test in February,” a senior ministry official said on condition of anonymity. “The amount of aid and the number of people involved in exchange fell because there was a six-month vacuum,” the official explained.” The NGOs are countering by arguing aid has remained at a low 2.1 billion won (US$2.06million) this year, despite a lack of major frictions.

There are, however, signs of some change in inter-Korean interchange though the NGOs are cautioning against reading too much into the government’s decisions. On June 4, the Ministry of Unification approved the first agricultural exchange effort since the May 24 measures. The Gyeongnam Unification Agricultural Cooperation Committee has sent 33 million won (US$32,400) worth of strawberry seedlings to North Korea, where they are to be grown for four months before being brought back South

Share

Data on Kaesong’s cumulative performance

Thursday, June 12th, 2014

According to Yonhap:

Cumulative production of the inter-Korean industrial park has come to US$2.3 billion as the most salient outcome of rapprochement between the Koreas marks its 10th anniversary of operations this week, the unification ministry said Thursday.

The joint factory complex in the North Korean border town of Kaesong opened a decade ago following the first inter-Korean summit meeting in 2000, in which their leaders adopted a joint declaration calling for closer cooperation and exchanges.

On June 14, 2004, a group of 15 South Korean groups signed contracts to operate factories in the then-newly built complex, inaugurating the era of the Kaesong Industrial Complex. In December that year, the joint complex saw its first batch of goods produced in its factories.

In the first full year of operations in 2005, annual output reached $14.9 million before jumping by more than 30-fold to $469.5 million in 2012, according to the unification ministry.

But yearly output nearly halved last year from 2012 after Pyongyang suspended operations of the Kaesong complex for five months from April amid inter-Korean tensions. The figure rose to $168.1 million in the first quarter of this year.

The value of inter-Korean trade through the park came to an accumulated $9.45 billion, according to the ministry.

A total of 940,000 people have visited the inter-Korean economic zone, with 125 South Korean firms currently operating in the complex designed to match deep-pocketed South Korean companies with cheap North Korean labor.

Among the firms, 73, or 58.4 percent, are textile firms, while another 24 firms are machinery or steel makers. The complex is also home to 13 electronics makers and 9 chemicals firms, the ministry noted.

The Kaesong complex also saw the number of North Korean workers grow from around 6,000 in 2005 to 52,000 as of recently, along with monthly salary more than doubling from $50 to more than $130.

Although this story reports salaries of $130, a separate story released just a couple of days ago claims the monthly incomes are just $70. I am not sure why the discrepancy.

Read the full story here:
Cumulative output of Kaesong park reaches US$2.3 bln
Yonhap
2014-6-12

Share

Eberstadt on DPRK Trade

Wednesday, June 4th, 2014

UPDATE 1 (2014-6-12): Witness to Transformation has an update here.

ORIGINAL POST (2014-6-4): Nicholas Eberstadt has written an interesting article on trends in the DPRK’s trade patterns from 2002-2013.

Here is just one graph:

Eberstadt-graph-DPRK-trade-2014-6-4

Read the full article here.

Dr. Eberstadt draws some counter-intuitive conclusions that cannot be observed directly from the published data. You can read all about the published data on the DPRK’s 2013 trade statistics here.

Share

DPRK leases ROK waters to Chinese fishermen

Friday, May 30th, 2014

NLL-chinese-fishing-2014-6-4

 

Pictured Above: Areas where the fishermen are allegedly crossing the NLL

According to the Joongang Ilbo:

North Korea signed a contract with Chinese fishermen allowing them to fish in waters near the disputed maritime border including South Korea’s waters, sources told the JoongAng Ilbo yesterday.

The contract allows Chinese fishermen to work near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), the de facto maritime border between the two Koreas in the Yellow Sea, including South Korean waters below the boundary, Seoul officials said. In return for giving the Chinese fishermen the right to work in South Korean waters, particularly during crab and squid seasons, North Korea is paid a certain amount of money annually, officials said.

“As North Korea has expanded its joint fishery area with China [to the southern waters below the NLL], some Chinese vessels are moving southward more than they did before,” a South Korean government official said. “We are thinking of more active measures to keep them from violating the NLL.”

Officials confirmed that the South Korean waters allegedly being rented out to the Chinese fishermen were three areas north and east of Baengnyeong Island and north of Yeonpyeong Island. Under the alleged contract, several North Korean and Chinese vessels have recently worked together, officials said. Some North Korean fishermen were allegedly hired by the Chinese vessels’ owners as well.

“Last year, most Chinese vessels worked north of the NLL, but recently they worked very close to the NLL and some crossed the line,” a Korean Coast Guard official said. “So we dispatched additional patrol ships and special Coast Guard forces to the areas.”

Starting in April, the Chinese ships gradually approached the NLL, officials said, and from mid-May, several large vessels crossed the border frequently, apparently for crab fishing.

The Korean Coast Guard seized a total of six Chinese boats that violated the NLL since May 19, including three 10-ton vessels on Tuesday. They said they also spotted about 100 vessels, assumed to be Chinese, near Yeonpyeong Island, and 170 near Baengnyeong Island, fishing in South Korean waters.

The South Korean government notified Beijing of the illegal fishing and called for them to stop, officials said.

“The Foreign Ministry and the Coast Guard told the Chinese Coast Guard officials about the contract that included our waters,” another South Korean official said. “We demanded the Chinese government warn the vessels not to cross the NLL.”

Military officials in Seoul raised concerns about the purpose of the contract. They say that the regime appears to be attempting to nullify the effectiveness of the boundary as well as to earn foreign currency.

“In the name of controlling the Chinese vessels, some North Korean patrol ships could cross the border or seize our fishing boats as well,” a military official said.

Read the full story here:
North rents out waters near NLL
Joongang Ilbo
Jeong Yong-soo
2014-5-30

Share