Archive for the ‘Daesung Trading Company’ Category

Kwangbok Department Store

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

UPDATE 1 (2012-2-21): According to the Korea Times, this store is now providing people with a legal window to exchange local for hard currency:

North Korea is apparently allowing foreign currency to be exchanged at unofficial, black market rates at a newly-renovated department store in Pyongyang, according to a diplomatic source who recently visited the country, Tuesday.

The source said people could exchange euros, dollars and yuan at kiosks at Kwangbok Area Supermarket, which recently opened after refurbishment and is said to resemble department stores in the South. The North has long kept the value of its local currency artificially high.

Euros were being exchanged at the rate of one euro for 4,420 North Korean won, while the official rate is around 130 won per euro, the source said.

“They are exchanging hard currency at a rate that seems to be an unofficial rate,” the source told The Korea Times. “People can also shop at the department store using foreign currency by taking their receipts to the booths.”

The source added that the exchange rates were written on a board inside the kiosks.

ORIGINAL POST (2012-1-6): See the original post below.


 

Pictured Above: (L) The original facade of the “Kwangbok Department Store (광복백화점)”. (R) The new facade of the “Kwangbok Area Supermarket (광복지구상업중심)”

Here is KCNA coverage of the opening of the facility (Posted to YouTube):

Astute observers will notice the American beer, Pabst Blue Ribbon, featured prominently in the beer section.

Here is coverage of the opening in KCNA (2012-1-5):

Pyongyang, January 5 (KCNA) — The Kwangbok Area Supermarket was opened with due ceremony on Thursday.

All business service at the supermarket built as a commercial service center has been put on IT and digital basis. Customers can buy varieties of goods according to their taste and requirements in the sales rooms on each floor stacked with household appliances, electronic products, foodstuff, fibre, sundries and others.

Present there were officials concerned, officials of the Korea Taesong General Trading Corporation, officials and employees of the Kwangbok Area Supermarket, members of the Feihaimengxin Trading (Beijing) Co. Ltd. staying in the DPRK and the Chinese embassy here.

O Ryong Il, general president of the Corporation, said in his speech that the work to build the supermarket was successfully completed under the energetic leadership of leader Kim Jong Iland the dear respected Kim Jong Un and the positive efforts of the peoples of the two countries.

He expressed belief that the supermarket would help towards improving the people’s living standard and promoting the well-being of the two peoples through better service and management.

Xue Rifei, executive managing director of the Feihaimengxin Trading (Beijing) Co. Ltd., said in his speech that Kim Jong Il and Kim Jong Un gave field guidance to the supermarket on December 15, 2011 and named it the Kwangbok Area Supermarket.

He expressed the expectation that an effort will be made to reenergize the supermarket to win high appreciation for its best management, service and credit.

The Korea Taesong General Trading Corporation is a sanctioned organization, and according to the US Treasury, it is a “key node” in the illicit activity of Office 39. According to NK Leadership Watch:

One of the participants at the opening ceremony was Jon Il Chun (Chon Il-chun), deputy director of the Korean Workers’ Party’s Finance and Accounting Department and section chief of Office #39.  Mr. Jon accompanied Kim Jong Il on a visit to the Kwangpok store in mid-December 2011, which was KJI’s last reported public appearance before his death.

On a more casual note, the supermarket marks a point of administrative departure from the way department stores are typically managed in socialist countries. The Kwangbok Department Store (the former name) was one of Pyongyang’s premier formal retail outlets. For decades it operated in the same way as other socialist department stores: customers ended up standing in three lines before they were able to collect their merchandise (one line to order, another line to pay, and another line to pick up). The new Kwangbok Supermarket has adopted a market-style check out line. Though unnoticed by foreigners, this is the first such check out line I have seen in a North Korean department store.

This point was also highlighted in AP coverage:

A separate story in KCNA notes that the shop will sell both foreign and domestic goods:

The supermarket is supplied with home and foreign-made products which are in demand in the country.

Although I have not acquired data specific to this store, I believe it is reasonable (even rational) to assume that if the supermarket sells imported goods it will charge had currency for them. This opinion is based on the following assumptions: 1. The Chinese investors will not accept North Korean won under any circumstances. 2. The goal of Office 39 is to acquire hard currency for the Kim family. 3. North Korean retail outlets frequently post prices in multiple currencies so I don’t see any reason why it would be different here. Today a plurality of North Koreans can easily acquire foreign exchange.

Here is my working assumption of the business model: Chinese partner acquires merchandise and imports it to the DPRK. Sales in hard currency go towards allowing the Chinese supplier to recover its costs. Chinese partner either earns a profit from a markup it charges Kwangbok or it divides the profit with Office 39 along some agreed percentage.

If Chinese profits are earned from a cost-plus markup that it charges Kwangbop, then the partnership is closer to an exclusive supplier deal rather than a true joint equity deal. The North Koreans could cheat on this deal by finding cheaper suppliers and decreasing its purchases from the Chinese partner. If after-sales profits are split between the Chinese and Office 39, then both partners will need auditors on hand to make sure the books are accurate. The Chinese partner will also need a good relationship with the Chinese embassy if it runs into problems with the DPRK managers should they unilaterally change the terms of the contract (the split).

A Chinese firm reportedly tried to invest in the Pyongyang Department Store No. 1 several years ago. Not much seemed to happen, but maybe there is some more info here.

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US sanctions two more DPRK organizations

Thursday, November 18th, 2010

UPDATE 2: Here is the actual Treasury Department Press Release (11/18/2010):

Treasury Designates Key Nodes of the Illicit Financing Network of North Korea’s Office 39

11/18/2010
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Department of the Treasury today designated Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Daesong General Trading Corporation pursuant to Executive Order (E.O.) 13551 for being owned or controlled by Office 39 of the Korean Workers’ Party.  Office 39 is a secretive branch of the government of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) that provides critical support to North Korean leadership in part through engaging in illicit economic activities and managing slush funds and generating revenues for the leadership. Office 39 was named in the Annex to E.O. 13551, issued by President Obama on August 30, 2010, in response to the U.S. government’s longstanding concerns regarding North Korea’s involvement in a range of illicit activities, many of which are conducted through government agencies and associated front companies. Korea Daesong Bank is involved in facilitating North Korea’s illicit financing projects, and Korea Daesong General Trading Corporation is used to facilitate foreign transactions on behalf of Office 39.

“Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Daesong General Trading Corporation are key components of Office 39’s financial network supporting North Korea’s illicit and dangerous activities,” said Under Secretary for Terrorism and Financial Intelligence Stuart Levey.  “Treasury will continue to use its authorities to target and disrupt the financial networks of entities involved in North Korean proliferation and other illicit activities.”

E.O. 13551 targets for sanctions individuals and entities facilitating North Korean trafficking in arms and related materiel; procurement of luxury goods; and engagement in certain illicit economic activities, such as money laundering, the counterfeiting of goods and currency, bulk cash smuggling and narcotics trafficking. As a result of today’s action, any assets of the designated entities that are within U.S. jurisdiction are frozen and U.S. persons are prohibited from conducting financial or commercial transactions with these entities.

UPDATE 1: Here is the US Treasury Department’s web page on North Korea.

ORIGINAL POST: According to Reuters:

The United States sanctioned on Thursday two North Korean companies linked to a group it accuses of drug smuggling and other “illicit” activities to support the nation’s secretive leadership.

U.S. sanctions against North Korea aim in part to persuade Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear programs, which the United States views as a threat to its allies South Korea and Japan. The North tested nuclear devices in 2006 and 2009.

The Treasury Department’s moves against Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Daesong General Trading Corporation will freeze any assets belonging to them that fall within U.S. jurisdiction as well as bar U.S. companies from dealing with them.

Their main aim is not to block North Korean assets in U.S. banks — analysts say there are unlikely to be any — but to discourage other banks from dealing with North Korea, thereby cutting off its access to foreign currency and luxury imports.

Perks and luxuries such as jewelry, fancy cars and yachts derived from North Korea’s shadowy network of overseas interests are believed to be one of the main tools Pyongyang uses to ensure loyalty among top military and party leaders to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il.

The Treasury described the two entities as “key nodes of the illicit financing network” of Office 39 of the Korean Workers’ Party, which it accuses of producing and smuggling narcotics to earn foreign exchange for the government.

“Korea Daesong Bank and Korea Daesong General Trading Corporation are key components of Office 39’s financial network supporting North Korea’s illicit and dangerous activities,” Treasury Under Secretary Stuart Levey said in a statement.

Heroin Production?
The Treasury designated the two under a recent executive order that targets entities that support North Korea’s arms trafficking, facilitate its luxury goods purchases and engage in illicit economic activities such as money laundering, drug and bulk cash smuggling and counterfeiting goods and currency.

President Barack Obama signed the executive order on August 30 allowing the Treasury to block the U.S. assets of North Korean entities that trade in arms or luxury goods, counterfeit currency or engage in money laundering, drug smuggling or other “illicit” activity to support the government or its leaders.

When that executive order was announced, the Treasury accused Office 39 of producing opium and heroin and of smuggling narcotics such as methamphetamine.

U.S.-North Korean relations have deteriorated since Obama took office, with his aides deeply unhappy about Pyongyang’s decision to conduct nuclear and missile tests last year as well as the March 26 sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan.

Forty-six South Korean sailors were killed in the incident, which the United States, South Korea and other nations blame squarely on North Korea. Pyongyang denies responsibility.

In the August 30 executive order, Obama cited the Cheonan’s sinking as well as 2009 nuclear and missile tests by North Korea as evidence it poses “an unusual and extraordinary threat” to U.S. national security, foreign policy and economy.

The Obama administration has been skeptical about returning to so-called six-party negotiations with the two Koreas, China, Japan and Russia under which Pyongyang committed in 2005 to abandon its nuclear programs.

U.S. officials say they do not want to talk for the sake of talking and North Korea must show some commitment to abandoning its nuclear programs.
Read the full story here:
U.S. sanctions two North Korean entities
Reuters
Arshad Mohammed
11/18/2010

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US freezes assets in DPRK proliferation case

Monday, August 30th, 2010

UPDATE 4: The following statement appeared on the Treasury Department web page:

In joint actions, the U.S. Departments of Treasury and State today announced the designations of five North Korean entities and three individuals under Executive Order (E.O.) 13382 for supporting North Korea’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program. Executive Order 13382 is an authority aimed at freezing the assets of WMD proliferators and their supporters thereby isolating them from the U.S. financial and commercial systems.

Also today, President Obama signed an Executive Order that directs the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to target for sanctions individuals and entities facilitating North Korean trafficking in arms and related materiel; procurement of luxury goods; and engagement in illicit activities, including money laundering, the counterfeiting of goods and currency, bulk cash smuggling and narcotics trafficking. The new Executive Order supplements E.O 13382, under which North Korean entities have been designated to date, and is consistent with measures required in UNSCRs 1718 and 1874.

The following individuals have been added to OFAC’s SDN list:

KIM, Yong Chol (a.k.a. KIM, Yong-Chol; a.k.a. KIM, Young-Cheol; a.k.a. KIM, Young-Chol; a.k.a. KIM, Young-Chul); DOB circa 1947; alt. DOB circa 1946; POB Pyongan-Pukto, North Korea (individual) [DPRK]

RI, Hong-Sop, c/o General Bureau of Atomic Energy , Haeudong, Pyongchen District, Pyongyang, Korea, North; DOB 1940; nationality Korea, North (individual) [NPWMD]

RI, Je-Son (a.k.a. RI, Che-Son), c/o General Bureau of Atomic Energy, Haeudong, Pyongchen District, Pyongyang, Korea, North; DOB 1938; nationality Korea, North (individual) [NPWMD]

YUN, Ho-Jin (a.k.a. YUN, Ho-Chin), c/o Namchongang Trading Corporation, Pyongyang, Korea, North; DOB 13 Oct 1944; nationality Korea, North (individual) [NPWMD]

The following entities have been added to OFAC’s SDN list:

GREEN PINE ASSOCIATED CORPORATION (a.k.a. CHONGSONG YONHAP; a.k.a. CH’O’NGSONG YO’NHAP), Nungrado, Pyongyang, Korea, North; c/o Reconnaissance General Bureau Headquarters, Hyongjesan-Guyok, Pyongyang, Korea, North [DPRK]

KOREA HEUNGJIN TRADING COMPANY (a.k.a. HUNJIN TRADING CO.), Pyongyang, Korea, North [NPWMD]

KOREA TAESONG TRADING COMPANY, Pyongyang, Korea, North [NPWMD]

MUNITIONS INDUSTRY DEPARTMENT (a.k.a. MILITARY SUPPLIES INDUSTRY DEPARTMENT), Pyongyang, Korea,
North [NPWMD]

OFFICE 39 (a.k.a. BUREAU 39; a.k.a. CENTRAL COMMITTEE BUREAU 39; a.k.a. DIVISION 39; a.k.a. OFFICE #39; a.k.a. OFFICE NO. 39; a.k.a. THIRD FLOOR), Second KWP Government Building (Korean – Ch’o’ngsa), Chungso’ng, Urban Town (Korean – Dong), Chung Ward, Pyongyang, Korea, North; Chung-Guyok (Central District), Sosong Street, Kyongrim-Dong, Pyongyang, Korea, North; Changgwang Street, Pyongyang, Korea, North [DPRK]

RECONNAISSANCE GENERAL BUREAU (a.k.a. CHONGCH’AL CH’ONGGUK; a.k.a. KPA UNIT 586; a.k.a. “RGB”), Hyongjesan-Guyok, Pyongyang, Korea, North; Nungrado, Pyongyang, Korea, North [DPRK]

SECOND ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES (a.k.a. 2ND ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES; a.k.a. ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES; a.k.a. CHAYON KWAHAK-WON; a.k.a. CHE 2 CHAYON KWAHAK-WON; a.k.a. KUKPANG KWAHAK-WON; a.k.a. NATIONAL DEFENSE ACADEMY; a.k.a. SANSRI; a.k.a. SECOND ACADEMY OF NATURAL SCIENCES RESEARCH INSTITUTE), Pyongyang, Korea, North [NPWMD]

SECOND ECONOMIC COMMITTEE, Kangdong, Korea, North [NPWMD]

UPDATE 3: According to the Wall Street Journal:

The Obama administration outlined new financial sanctions on North Korea aimed at further choking off Pyongyang’s arms trade and the illicit businesses funding dictator Kim Jong Il’s government.

The U.S. specifically targeted a secretive unit of Pyongyang’s ruling Korean Workers’ Party, known as Office 39, which American officials believe serves as a private slush fund for Mr. Kim.

Washington also blacklisted nearly a dozen North Korean individuals and entities alleged to be overseeing Pyongyang’s development of conventional arms and weapons of mass destruction, as well as their sales to third countries.

Among those designated are the Second Economic Committee of the Workers’ Party and Yun Ho-jin, Pyongyang’s onetime ambassador to the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency. The U.S. also named to its sanctions list two top officials from Pyongyang’s General Bureau of Atomic Energy, Ri Je-son and Ri Hong-sop.

“When it comes to focusing on illicit activity, we have seen that the world reacts to this kind of thing very, very positively,” said Stuart Levey, the Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence. “We believe that this sort of program can have a very powerful impact.”

The new U.S. measures freeze any assets of the designated persons or entities inside the U.S. and bars American companies from conducting business with the listed North Koreans. Mr. Levey also said that any foreign entities conducting business with the sanctioned North Koreans could also face U.S. penalties.

Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in June that the U.S. would enact new financial penalties on Pyongyang, in part, in response to the North’s alleged torpedoing of a South Korean naval vessel. The March sinking of the Cheonan killed 46 South Korean servicemen and has led to heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

U.S. officials fear the attack could be linked to a political succession process inside Pyongyang and could presage other provocative acts by the North. U.S. and Asian officials believe Kim Jong Il is seeking to pass power to his third son, Kim Jong Eun.

…U.S. officials said the targeting of Office 39 is among the most direct assaults on Kim Jong Il’s finances to date and illustrates Washington’s support for the North Korean people. Office 39 has been directly involved in procuring luxury goods for Mr. Kim and Pyongyang’s political elite, even as many North Koreans face starvation.

Office 39 was blacklisted under a new executive order signed by President Barack Obama on Monday that specifically seeks to end North Korea’s ability to raise hard currency through illicit activities like drug smuggling and counterfeit $100 bills. The Treasury said Office 39 was directly involved in a 2009 scheme to illegally export into North Korea two luxury yachts valued at $15 million for Kim Jong Il.

UPDATE 2: According to the Wall Street Journal:

A North Korean arms chief and Pyongyang’s former ambassador to the United Nation’s nuclear agency have emerged as key figures in an intensifying international effort to curb North Korea’s weapons-trading activities.

The global dealings of the two men, Chun Byung-ho and Yun Ho-jin, whom North Korea analysts believe to be related through marriage, date back to the 1980s. They have played leading roles in North Korea’s development and testing of atomic weapons, according to current and former U.S. officials, Asian intelligence analysts and U.N. nonproliferation staffers.

More troubling to officials, Messrs. Chun and Yun also oversee Pyongyang’s vast arms-trading network, which appears to be spreading. They have shipped components for long-range missiles, nuclear reactors and conventional arms to countries including Iran, Syria and Myanmar.

On Monday, the Obama administration announced economic sanctions against various individuals and entities involved in Pyongyang’s nuclear work and in alleged illicit trading activities. The Treasury Department named Mr. Yun and the North Korean body headed by Mr. Chun—the Second Economic Committee of Pyongyang’s ruling Korean Workers’ Party. The sanctions freeze any U.S. assets of those named and bar Americans from conducting business with them. Treasury also warned that foreign firms doing business with them risked sanctions.

The Second Economic Committee oversees a little-known foreign trade office with the Orwellian name of Office 99. The proceeds from the Office’s arms sales go directly to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il and Pyongyang’s senior leadership, according to these officials and recent North Korean defectors.

“It is broadly believed that the Second Economic Committee…plays the largest and most prominent role in nuclear, other WMD and missile-related development programs, as well as arranging and conducting arms-related exports” for North Korea, says a report issued in May by the U.N. committee tasked with enforcing international sanctions on Pyongyang.

The U.S. and U.N. recently have intensified efforts to combat the Second Economic Committee and Office 99, alarmed by Pyongyang’s two nuclear-weapons tests and its alleged role in sinking a South Korean naval vessel in March. Last year, the U.N. formally sanctioned Mr. Yun and his arms company, Namchongang Trading Co.

North Korean arms shipments moving through Thailand, the United Arab Emirates, South Africa and the South China Sea have been seized or turned back by the U.S. and its allies over the past few years. A Japanese court convicted a Tokyo-based trading company in November of procuring military technologies for Pyongyang with the intent of shipping them to Myanmar.

Still, Messrs. Chun and Yun’s decades of experience in the weapons trade pose a challenge to an international community keen to disrupt Pyongyang’s proliferation activities, say U.S. and Asian officials. “There is no reason to assume that Chun and Yun won’t sell nuclear weapons,” says David Asher, a former Bush administration official who has tracked Pyongyang’s arms trade for a decade. “There needs to be an active effort to disrupt their WMD networks and drive them out of business now, before it’s too late.”

The two men have established a network of front companies in Asia, Europe and the Middle East and have partnered with Southeast Asian, Japanese and Taiwanese criminal syndicates to move cash and contraband, say U.S. officials. And Mr. Yun has used the political cover provided by Pyongyang’s closest ally, China, to openly conduct business in cities such as Beijing and Shenyang, drawing official rebukes from Washington.

North Korean diplomats at Pyongyang’s U.N. mission in New York did not respond to requests for comment. Messrs. Chun and Yun couldn’t be reached.

Current and former U.S. officials say North Korea’s operations resemble in both scale and tactics those of Pakistan’s Abdul Qadeer Khan—one of the most notorious arms dealers in recent years. U.S. officials fear that isolated North Korea, desperate for hard currency, could accelerate its arms exports in a bid to prop up Kim Jong Il’s finances.

Mr. Chun, now 84 years old, and his Second Economic Committee emerged as major global arms exporters in the 1980s, as North Korea shipped as much as $3 billion worth of rockets, pistols and submarines to Tehran during the eight-year Iran-Iraq war, say recent defectors and North Korea analysts.

Pyongyang assisted some communist and socialist countries militarily during the 1960s and 1970s, and provided fighter pilots to aid Egypt and Syria in their wars against Israel. But North Korea found a largely captive market in Iran, which faced a U.S.-led weapons embargo as the West threw its support behind Iraqi strongman Saddam Hussein.

One senior North Korean defector who worked in Pyongyang’s munitions industries says he was dispatched to Iran by the Second Economic Committee in 1987 with the task of constructing missile batteries on the Iranian island of Kish to help Tehran better control the movement of ships through the Straits of Hormuz.

His main interlocutor was Iran’s elite military unit, the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. The former hydro-mechanic says camaraderie developed between his 100-man team and the Guard, despite their different backgrounds.

Mr. Chun’s control over the Second Economic Committee was tied to his close relationship with Pyongyang’s ruling Kim family, say defectors and North Korea experts. The Russian-trained bureaucrat served as a member of North Korean founder Kim Il Sung’s bodyguard unit. He rose up the ranks of the Korean Workers’ Party with the political support of Kim Jong Il, eventually securing a position on Pyongyang’s most powerful political body, the National Defense Commission.

North Korea’s high-level defector, Hwang Jang-yop, has identified Mr. Chun as the broker of a key barter trade in the 1990s with Pakistan that significantly advanced Pyongyang’s nuclear infrastructure. The agreement resulted in North Korea shipping parts for long-range missiles to Islamabad in exchange for A.Q. Khan sending centrifuge equipment used in producing nuclear fuel.

As Mr. Chun pushed forward North Korea’s nuclear program from Pyongyang, Mr. Yun, believed to be the husband of Mr. Chun’s second daughter, emerged as a key player in procuring technologies for the Second Economic Committee from Europe, according to U.S., U.N. and European officials.

Mr. Yun, 66, arrived in Vienna in 1985 as Pyongyang’s ambassador to the International Atomic Energy Agency. The English and German speaker led negotiations with the U.N. agency aimed at forging a nuclear-inspection agreement with North Korea, and he helped oversee a 1992 tour of his nation’s Yongbyon nuclear facility for Hans Blix, the IAEA’s then-managing director.

“Yun was dedicated to turning things around. I truly believe that,” says Willi Theis, who worked closely with Mr. Yun as the head of the IAEA’s safeguards unit overseeing North Korea. Mr. Theis is now retired.

Still, concerns grew inside the IAEA about Mr. Yun’s activities, as relations between Pyongyang and the international community deteriorated, according to IAEA officials.

In 1993, North Korea broke off talks with the IAEA over the agency’s demands for an inspection of the country’s nuclear operations, and the U.S. charged Pyongyang with secretly stockpiling plutonium for atomic weapons. The next year, the Clinton administration threatened to bomb the Yongbyon facility if North Korea didn’t explain where the plutonium had gone. Mr. Yun grew embittered with the diplomatic process and mistrustful of the U.S. and its allies, according to IAEA staff and journalists who met with him.

Mr. Theis says he spent hours discussing the process with Mr. Yun and pressed the Agency to remain engaged with Pyongyang. The West German-born nuclear inspector says he grew suspicious of Mr. Yun’s many trips to other European cities and his contacts with local companies. Mr. Yun even hinted to Mr. Theis that he might have no choice but to directly support North Korea’s nuclear-weapons programs if relations with the IAEA collapsed.

“He came to the conclusion that dealing with the international community was totally disappointing,” said Mr. Theis in a phone interview from Austria. “Mr. Yun had definitely learned how to establish contacts with all types of people [while in Vienna]—not just from the IAEA, but managers of companies.”

Mr. Theis’s concerns about Mr. Yun would be borne out in 2003, when a German businessman, Hans Werner Truppel, was arrested and eventually convicted by a Stuttgart court of selling 22 metric tons of aluminum tubes to Mr. Yun.

The North Korean and his company, Namchongang Trading, used offices in Beijing and Shenyang, China, to place orders for the equipment, which is critical to building centrifuges needed to enrich uranium, according to a German Customs Bureau report. U.S. officials briefed on the case were alarmed that Mr. Yun conducted some of his business through the offices of Shenyang Aircraft Industry Co., a Chinese state-owned firm.

In the ensuing months, the State Department aired its concerns about Mr. Yun’s activities to China’s government, according to former U.S. officials. But Beijing took no action.

China’s ministries of foreign affairs and commerce didn’t respond to requests for comment. Shenyang Aircraft says it had no recollection of any dealings with Mr. Yun.

Messrs. Chun and Yun have sought to accelerate North Korea’s weapons sales and procurement in recent years and allegedly have played important roles in strengthening Pyongyang’s military ties to countries such as Syria and Myanmar, say current and former U.S. officials.

North Korea analysts believe most of these transactions have been conducted through Office 99, which they describe as an international sales office and slush fund for Kim Jong Il.

“Anything that has to do with the imports and exports of weapons flows through Office 99,” says Oh Kongdan, a North Korea expert at Virginia’s Institute of Defense Analyses, a Pentagon-funded think tank. “It’s a royal patronage system.”

U.S. officials say that since the late 1990s they detected through intelligence channels intensifying military cooperation between North Korea and Syria, focused on everything from the development of chemical weapons to missiles.

In September 2007, Israeli jets bombed a facility in eastern Syria that U.S. officials say was a nearly operational replica of North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear reactor. As many as 10 North Koreans died in the Israeli attack, according to U.S. officials. Mr. Yun and Namchongang Trading are believed to have played a central role in brokering development of the facility.

“That particular company was all over the nuclear trade. There’s no question about it,” says John Bolton, who served as the Bush administration’s top non-proliferation official. Both Syria and North Korea have denied cooperating on developing nuclear technologies.

Over the past two years, U.S. and U.N. officials have also voiced concerns about North Korea’s deepening military ties with Myanmar, the Southeast Asian country formerly known as Burma.

North Korea engineers have helped Myanmar build a maze of fortified bunkers to house senior government officials and military installations, according to Burmese defectors and commercial satellite photos. Current and former U.S. officials say Washington has intervened to block the transfer of Scud missiles to Myanmar from Pyongyang.

In June, Japan’s Ministry of Economy and Trade banned Tokyo-based Toko Boeki Trading Co. and device maker Riken Denshi from conducting international trade after three of their affiliated executives, one of them an ethnic Korean, were arrested trying to send machine tools on an export-control list to Myanmar using a dummy company in Malaysia. The equipment could be used to develop either ballistic missiles or centrifuges for a uranium-enrichment program, according to weapons experts. And the U.N. in its May report said it was examining “suspicious” ties between Mr. Yun’s Namchongang Trading and Myanmar, possibly linked to these activities in Japan.

The Obama administration, in response, has announced a stepped-up campaign to block North Korea’s ability to raise funds through the arms trade. In addition to the new sanctions, the Pentagon has said it will intensify the interdiction of ships and planes believed to be carrying North Korean arms.

Still, Mr. Theis and other North Korea experts believe that it is only through dialogue that the West will be able to curb the North’s proliferation threat. Mr. Theis says he is recently lobbied the IAEA to allow him to return to Pyongyang to hold meetings with Mr. Yun. So far, he says, the IAEA hasn’t agreed.

UPDATE 1: According to Reuters:

President Barack Obama on Monday broadened U.S. financial sanctions on North Korea, freezing the U.S. assets of eight North Korean companies or agencies and four individual citizens.

The U.S. Treasury released a fact sheet detailing U.S. allegations against the North Korean entities and individuals targeted under the new U.S. executive order and a previous one. The following is a summary:

Companies and Agencies

The Reconnainance General Bureau
The Reconnaissance General Bureau (RGB) is North Korea’s premiere intelligence organization, created in early 2009 by the merger of existing intelligence agencies. The RGB trades in conventional arms and controls the North Korean conventional arms firm Green Pine Associated Corporation, which was also identified for sanctions under Obama’s order for exporting arms or related materiel from North Korea, the Treasury said.

Green Pine Associated Corp.
Green Pine was brought under the control of the RGB in 2009. The Treasury said it specializes in the production of maritime military craft and armaments, such as submarines, military boats and missiles systems, and has exported torpedoes and technical assistance to Iranian defense-related firms.

Green Pine is responsible for approximately half of the arms and related materiel exported by North Korea and has taken over many of the activities of the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation, according to the Treasury.

Office 39
Office 39 of the Korean Workers’ Party engages in illicit economic activity to support the North Korean government, the U.S. Treasury fact sheet said. Office 39 has branches throughout the nation that raise and manage funds and is responsible for earning foreign currency for senior party leaders through illicit activities such as narcotics trafficking.

Office 39 controls a number of entities inside North Korea and abroad through which the Treasury said it is involved in the production, smuggling, and distribution of narcotics, and it has also been involved in the attempted procurement and transfer to North Korea of luxury goods.

Office 39 produced methamphetamine and was also involved in its supply to small-scale North Korean smugglers for distribution through China and South Korea. It also operates poppy farms and produces opium and heroin, the Treasury said.

In 2009, Office 39 was involved in the failed attempt to purchase and export to North Korea — through China — two Italian-made luxury yachts worth more than $15 million and destined for North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, the Treasury said.

Korea Mining Development Trading Corp. (KOMID)
KOMID is Pyongyang’s main arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, with offices located in multiple countries around the world with the primary goal of facilitating weapons sales and seeking new customers for its weapons, according to the Treasury.

KOMID uses Korea Taesong Trading Company and Korea Heungjin Trading Company for trading purposes. Korea Taesong has acted on behalf of KOMID in dealings with Syria, and Korea Heungjin acts as the procurement arm of KOMID, the Treasury fact sheet said. Korea Heungjin is also suspected to have been involved in supplying missile-related goods to Iran’s Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group, it said.

Korea Taesong was previously sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State in 2008 under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act.

Munitions Industry Department
The Treasury said the Munitions Industry Department is responsible for overseeing the development of North Korea’s ballistic missiles, including the Taepodong-2 which was first test-launched in 2006 and has a possible range of 4,100 miles.

The Second Economic Committee
The Second Economic Committee is responsible for overseeing production of North Korea’s ballistic missiles. It also directs the activities of KOMID, according to the U.S. Treasury.

The Second Academy of Natural Sciences
The Second Academy of Natural Sciences is a national-level organization responsible for research and development of North Korea’s advanced weapons systems, including missiles and probably nuclear weapons. It uses a number of subordinate organizations, including Tangun Trading Corporation, to obtain technology, equipment, and information from overseas for use in North Korea’s missile and probably nuclear weapons programs, the U.S. Treasury said.

Individuals

Kim Yong-chol
General Kim Yong-chol commands the Reconnaissance General Bureau.

Ri Je-son and Ri Hong-sap
The U.S. Treasury fact sheet said Ri Je-son and Ri Hong-sop act for or on behalf of the General Bureau of Atomic Energy (GBAE), which is responsible for North Korea’s nuclear program and manages operations at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center. GBAE was designated by the United Nations in July 2009 for its involvement in North Korea’s nuclear program and subsequently sanctioned by the State Department.

Ri Je-son is the director of GBAE and is responsible for facilitating several nuclear endeavors including GBAE’s management of Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center and Namchongang Trading Corporation, according to the Treasury.

Ri Hong-sop is a councilor for GBAE. He is also the former Director of Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center. In that capacity he oversaw the three core facilities that North Korea used to produce weapons-grade plutonium, the Treasury said.

Both Ri Je-son and Ri Hong-sop are also subject to the asset freeze and travel ban provisions under an earlier United Nations Security Council resolution.

Yun Ho-jin
Yun Ho-jin acts for or on behalf of Namchongang Trading Corporation (NCG), a North Korean trading company subordinate to GBAE. NCG has been involved in the procurement of Japanese- origin vacuum pumps that were identified at a North Korean nuclear facility, as well as nuclear-related procurement associated with a German individual.

Yun Ho-jin has acted on behalf of NCG in various capacities since the 1980s. As a senior official at NCG, he oversaw the import of items needed for North Korea’s uranium enrichment program.

Through an NCG office in China, Yun Ho-jin was also involved in purchases of sensitive material linked to the construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria, the Treasury fact sheet said.

He is also under U.N. Security Council asset freeze and travel ban sanctions.

ORIGINAL POST: Here is the full statement by the US Treasury Department:

August 30, 2010
TG-840

United States Designates North Korean Entities and Individuals for Activities Related to North Korea’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Program

WASHINGTON – In joint actions, the U.S. Departments of Treasury and State today announced the designations of five North Korean entities and three individuals under Executive Order (E.O.) 13382 for supporting North Korea’s Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD) program. Executive Order 13382 is an authority aimed at freezing the assets of WMD proliferators and their supporters thereby isolating them from the U.S. financial and commercial systems.

Also today, President Obama signed an Executive Order that directs the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State, to target for sanctions individuals and entities facilitating North Korean trafficking in arms and related materiel; procurement of luxury goods; and engagement in illicit activities, including money laundering, the counterfeiting of goods and currency, bulk cash smuggling and narcotics trafficking. The new Executive Order supplements E.O 13382, under which North Korean entities have been designated to date, and is consistent with measures required in UNSCRs 1718 and 1874.

Korea Taesong Trading Company and Korea Heungjin Trading Company
Pyongyang-based entities the Korea Taesong Trading Company and Korea Heungjin Trading Company, are used by the Korea Mining Development Trading Corporation (KOMID) for trading purposes. Korea Taesong Trading Company has acted on behalf of KOMID in dealings with Syria, and Korea Heungjin Trading Company acts as the procurement arm of KOMID. Korea Heungjin Trading Company is also suspected to have been involved in supplying missile-related goods to Iran’s Shahid Hemmat Industrial Group.

KOMID is Pyongyang’s premier arms dealer and main exporter of goods and equipment related to ballistic missiles and conventional weapons, with offices located in multiple countries around the world with the primary goal of facilitating weapons sales and seeking new customers for its weapons. It was listed in the Annex to E.O. 13382 of June 2005 and has been sanctioned by the United States repeatedly over the last 10 years for trading in missile technology. KOMID was also designated by the UNSCR 1718 Committee to be subject to the asset freeze provisions of UNSCR 1718.

Korea Taesong Trading Company was previously sanctioned by the U.S. Department of State in 2008 under the Iran, North Korea, and Syria Nonproliferation Act (INKSNA). INKSNA provides for the imposition of measures on entities or individuals for the transfer to or acquisition from Iran, Syria, or North Korea of equipment or technology controlled under multilateral export control lists or otherwise having the potential to make a material contribution to the proliferation of WMD or cruise or ballistic missile systems.

Second Economic Committee, Munitions Industry Department and Second Academy of Natural Sciences
The Munitions Industry Department and Second Economic Committee are involved in key aspects of North Korea’s missile program. The Munitions Industry Department is responsible for overseeing the development of North Korea’s ballistic missiles, including the Taepo Dong-2.

The Second Economic Committee is responsible for overseeing the production of North Korea’s ballistic missiles. The Second Economic Committee also directs the activities of KOMID.

The Second Academy of Natural Sciences is a national-level organization responsible for research and development of North Korea’s advanced weapons systems, including missiles and probably nuclear weapons. The Second Academy of Natural Sciences uses a number of subordinate organizations to obtain technology, equipment, and information from overseas, including Tangun Trading Corporation, for use in North Korea’s missile and probably nuclear weapons programs.

Tangun Trading Corporation is subordinate to the Second Academy of Natural Sciences and is primarily responsible for the procurement of commodities and technologies to support North Korea’s defense research and development programs and procurement, including materials that are controlled under the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) or the Australia Group. Tangun Trading Corporation was designated by the Department of State pursuant to E.O. 13382 in September 2009. Tangun Trading Corporation was also designated by the UNSCR 1718 Committee to be subject to the asset freeze provisions of UNSCR 1718.

Ri Je-son and Ri Hong-sop
Ri Je-son and Ri Hong-sop act for or on behalf of the General Bureau of Atomic Energy (GBAE), which is responsible for North Korea’s nuclear program and manages operations at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center. GBAE was designated by the United Nations in July 2009 for its involvement in North Korea’s nuclear program and subsequently sanctioned by the Department of State under E.O. 13382 in September 2009.

Ri Je-son is the Director of GBAE and is responsible for facilitating several nuclear endeavors including GBAE’s management of Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center and Namchongang Trading Corporation.

Ri Hong-sop is a councilor for GBAE. He is also the former Director of Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center. In that capacity he oversaw the three core facilities that the DPRK used to produce of weapons-grade plutonium: the Fuel Fabrication Facility, the 5MWe Experimental Reactor, and the Radiological Laboratory (Reprocessing Plant).

Ri Je-son and Ri Hong-sop were also designated by the UNSCR 1718 Committee to be subject to the asset freeze and travel ban provisions of UNSCR 1718.

Yun Ho-lin
Yun Ho-jin acts for or on behalf of Namchongang Trading Corporation (NCG), a North Korean trading company subordinate to GBAE. NCG has been involved in the procurement of Japanese- origin vacuum pumps that were identified at a North Korean nuclear facility, as well as nuclear-related procurement associated with a German individual. NCG was designated by the State Department pursuant to E.O. 13382 in June 2009.

Yun Ho-jin has acted on behalf of NCG in various capacities since the 1980s. As a senior official at NCG, he oversaw the import of items needed for North Korea’s uranium enrichment program.

Through an NCG office in China, Yun Ho-jin was also involved in purchases of sensitive material linked to the construction of a nuclear reactor in Syria.

Yun Ho-jin was also designated by the UNSCR 1718 Committee to be subject to the asset freeze and travel ban provisions of UNSCR 1718.

Identifying Information:
Entity: Korea Taesong Trading Company
Location: Pyongyang, North Korea

Entity: Korea Heungjin Trading Company
AKA: Hunjin Trading Co.
Location: Pyongyang, North Korea

Entity: Second Economic Committee
Location: Kangdong, North Korea

Entity: Munitions Industry Department
AKA: Military Supplies Industry Department
Location: Pyongyang, North Korea

Entity: Second Academy of Natural Sciences
AKA: 2nd Academy of Natural Sciences
AKA: Che 2 Chayon Kwahak-Won
AKA: Academy of Natural Sciences
AKA: Chayon Kwahak-Won
AKA: National Defense Academy
AKA: Kukpang Kwahak-Won
AKA: Second Academy of Natural Sciences Research Institute SANSRI
Location: Pyongyang, North Korea

Individual: Ri Je-Son
AKA: Ri Che-Son
DOB: 1938

Individual: Ri Hong-Sop
DOB: 1940

Individual: Yun Ho-jin
AKA: Yun Ho-chin

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A Year in Waiting for Steel Plates

Wednesday, September 19th, 2007

Daily NK
Kim Chan Ku
Institute for Far Eastern Studies
9/19/2007

(UPDATE: On Oct. 23, [2008] the State Department blacklisted two North Korean companies, Korea Mining Development Corp. and Korea Taesong Trading Co., for violating U.S. bans on the sale of equipment used in building missiles or other weapons of mass destruction to Iran and Syria. Citation: “North Korean Plane Was Grounded at U.S. Request “, Wall Street Journal, Jay Solomon, 11/1/2008 )

Kimchaek boasts one of the largest steel factories and fishing ports in North Korea especially that of Daesung General Company’s east coast headquarters.

However, at once-famous seaport everything including ship, freezer, packing factory was obsolete and rust. Most of the Soviet-built machines in factories were at least 20 to 30 years old. And there were neither enough spare parts to fix machinery nor job orders, so the factories had stood still for a long time.

I consulted with local North Korean officials in Kimchaek and reached an agreement: ship repair dock will be built in Kimchaek, steel products necessary for building floating dock would be Daesung General Company’s responsibility, and other issues concerning building land factory and management of joint-stock company would be decided in Pyongyang.

Also we finished negotiation over fish export and Pollack fishing by trawler. Thus basic problems were solved.

I came back to Pyongyang on September 30. And another businessperson, Mr. Kim Sung Chan of Pamco Trading, told me his will to invest fifty percent of the capital.

All of sudden, Daesung General Company notified us that among our previous agreements, only the site of repair dock was decided and asked us to wait, promising final decision would delivered in one month.

To start first phase of building factories, it was most critical to have steel products ordered from state. We believed the promise from the North (to take responsibility of providing iron plates) and returned to America.  However, after two month had passed, there was no news from Pyongyang. Curious, I called back and was told to visit North Korea as soon as possible.

On December 9, 1989 I arrived at Sun An International Airport. In Pyongyang, vice president of Daesung General Company (president was absent, traveling abroad) said “we asked the state for iron plates, but production plan was omitted in 1990 fiscal year so one more year of waiting is inevitable, or send us steel plates.”

In other words, our business plan was totally embarrassed and we had to make a new one.  Again, I conferred with Mr. Kim and found out a solution, which was to buy a used floating dock from an American port. There was a fifty-year old used floating dock in Miami, Florida that we were able to buy. If repaired, it seemed available for another twenty years.

Finally, two obstacles had our plan failed. Firstly, it was supposed take at least three month and five hundred thousands US dollars (twice the price of dock) to convey the floating dock by sea. Secondly, (and more fundamental problem) the US government would not permit to sell the dock to North Korea. We were not even possible to transport the dock to Hong Kong and then to North Korea.

Because acquisition of required steel plate for floating dock was failed ultimately, the daring business had gone nowhere. Wasted much money and more than a year of time, I was so depressed at that time[.]

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Maebong Company-Ringleaders of Foreign Currency

Tuesday, March 20th, 2007

Daily NK
Han Young Jin
3/20/2007

(UPDATE: On Oct. 23, [2008] the State Department blacklisted two North Korean companies, Korea Mining Development Corp. and Korea Taesong Trading Co., for violating U.S. bans on the sale of equipment used in building missiles or other weapons of mass destruction to Iran and Syria. Citation: “North Korean Plane Was Grounded at U.S. Request “, Wall Street Journal, Jay Solomon, 11/1/2008 )

Daesung Trading Company and Maebong Company, Two Pillars of North Korea’s foreign currency

In the 80~90’s, the aim of the People’s Army of North Korea was to make foreign currency and consequently, each division of the government began to operate trading companies. However, there were many kinds of trading companies.

The Maebong Company under the General Staff which was established in the 80’s, Birobong Trading Company, Yongsung Trading Company, Manpoong Trading Company and Danpoong Trading Company founded in the 90’s, all under the top 5 trading companies in North Korea. Of these, Maebong Company is the most well-known; once also known as Kwangmyung Trading Company until 2000.

Following “Military First Politics,” Maebong Company became one of North Korea’s active traders with Daesung Trading Company belonging to the Worker’s Party Division 39.

One of the reasons that the military became directly involved in foreign currency came from the fact that the nation was unable to acquire the necessary war supplies itself due to the economic crisis. Further, as the Soviet Union and the East European bloc collapsed, trade was changed from bartering goods to dollars and hence, North Korea was in a dire state of insufficient currency.

Presently, the Maebong Company’s main office is in Pyongyang with branches throughout the country such as the border districts of Shinuiju, Haesan and Hoiryeong.

In order to attract powerful Chinese traders, Maebong Company only appoints those who have experience with foreign money as regional directors such as North Korean citizens with relatives in China. After giving the title of regional director, a permit is given. Though the regional director is registered as a tradesman for the military, actually he/she is in fact not a soldier.

With a certificate which states their position of foreign tradesmen, regional directors have the privilege of freely entering and exiting China.

Trading branches in each city, trading with Japan in the opensea

Trading partners are mostly China and Japan. Traders from Maebong Company dealing with China exchange goods such as second hand cars, medicinal herbs, silk cocoons and seafood.

With copies of Kim Jong Il’s orders distributed by Maebong Company, trading partners are able to transport secured goods supplied by foreign currency directors as far as the border regions without much difficultly from security posts.

One defector from Shinuiju said “In 1995, hundreds of trading companies were established in Shinuiju… Maebong Company was one of these companies which served as a shabby storage factory stocking 10tons of flour and medicinal herbs in which people could exchange for aluminum. At that time, these people who were called foreign currency directors wore overcoats made of dogs fur and rode second hand bicycles made in Japan.”

At one point, Maebong Company illegally sold second hand cars along the border region and gained considerable income. Nowadays, medicinal herbs and minerals are more popular and whereas more of the traders from the West Coast export seafood such as shells and razor clams to China, expectedly, export seafood to Japan occurs mainly on the East Coast.

Conceal illegal foreign currency, smuggling of gold prohibited

In 1997, authorities conducted a thorough investigation against traders in order to straighten the chaotic mess created by border tradesmen. After the investigation, Kim Jong Il ordered every trading company to be merged under the control of each agency. As a result, trading companies which had once been organized by the military divisions were disintegrated and became incorporated as part of the Maebong Company, now an integrated trading group.

After becoming a director for Maebong Company in Hoiryeong, “Kim” who had once lived a tough life is now known to be one of the richest people living in the area, frequently traveling to China.

According to one defector who had worked under the Korea Service Bureau of Workers’ Party division 16, there were 6 employees at the Hoiryeong Maebong Company located in Manghyang, which planned to earn $100,000 annually. Also, additional funds are kept in celebration of national events such as Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il’s birthday.

There is a great number of Maebong Company employees who engage in corrupt activity and ultimately are defaced. There is a saying in North Korea, “earning foreign currency is educational punishment,” meaning that though earning foreign currency is an occupation preferred by the many, it does at the same time involve greatest risk. In 1997, an investigation was made targeting central authorities. Many of these directors in charge ended up receiving severe punishment.

Once, “Park” a director of Shinuiju Maebong Company was convicted under the suspicion of depositing foreign currency into a Chinese bank and while undergoing the preliminary hearing was known to have attempted self-injury by swallowing a spoon. On another occasion, ‘Kim’ of Chongjin Maebong Company was known to have been executed for being involved in a case of smuggling gold.

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