Mangyongbong-92 traveling agian

According to the Associated Press, the Chongryun have once again begun shipping service between their homes in Japan and Wonsan, DPRK.

I remember seeing this very ship when I visited Wonsan in August 2004.  I did not get to walk aboard or anything, I just got a glance as my bus zoomed by….unfortunately too fast to take a picture.

Shipping from North Korea was severly curtailed by the Japanes Authorities in response to public outcry over the kidnapping issue.  Although Japan was coy enough to avoid an outright trade embargo, leaving the door open to future talks, they did place insurance and safety requirements on ships in their ports…requirements very few North Korean ships can meet.

From the article:

The Mangyongbong-92 was inspected by Japanese authorities as nearly 500 police guarded the area. Officials found six minor problems with the vessel, including ones related to fire prevention and communications, but issued no corrective orders, according to the Transport Ministry.

The ferry from Wonsan to Niigata has been a catalyst for Japanese protests. As the only regular passenger service between the two countries, its visits provide the isolated North with a crucial link to the outside world.

The vessel, which was to depart from Niigata on Wednesday, is scheduled to make 18 more visits through October, according to Transport Ministry official Hajime Nakamura.

In late March, police raided the Osaka office of a chamber of commerce for North Korea on suspicion that its top officials were involved in one kidnapping.

In March, Japan passed a law requiring all foreign ships over 100 tons entering Japan to be insured against oil spills, losses and other damage.

Few North Korean ships were believed able to meet the requirement, and officials acknowledged the measure was intended to increase pressure on the North.


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