South Korea increasing economic pressure on DPRK

According to Yonhap:

South Korea’s unification ministry on Tuesday closed its bureau on humanitarian aid to North Korea and created a new one to better analyze Pyongyang’s internal politics as part of government restructuring.

The Cabinet approved the ministry’s proposal to shut down its Humanitarian Cooperation Bureau and set up the tentatively-named Political Analysis Bureau, Kim Jung-tae, assistant minister for planning and coordination, said in a press briefing.

Additionally, the South Korean government seems to be laying the political and regulatory groundwork to apply more economic pressure on DPRK.  Again, according to Yonhap:

“The process of monitoring items exported to North Korea has no order of priority, raising concern that there could be a chance of strategic materials going to North Korea,” the audit agency said after an investigation requested by the National Assembly.

Strategic materials refer to equipment or technology used to make nuclear or biological weapons or missiles that are prohibited from being carried into the North. Such materials or items that may fall into that category are sometimes overlooked as the ministry’s checklist, generally used by the tax agency and other government agencies, is too broad, it said.

The ministry failed to spot and investigate packages of black powder, an explosive mixture of sulfur, that were transported into North Korea by a local firm last year, the agency said, though it could not say whether black powder is a strategic material.

The audit agency also found that 270 used computers were exported to North Korea in a possible violation of the law. The computers were initially destined for China, but their owner changed the destination to North Korea without informing the government, it said.

Other computers that were subject to return to the South were not brought back in time, it noted. South Korean law allows citizens to bring computers to North Korea on condition that they bring them back within a year.

The ministry failed to keep track of more than 2,000 computers taken to a joint industrial complex in the North’s border town of Kaesong over the past year by South Korean workers, it said.

The Unification Ministry said in a statement that some of the items noted by the customs agency were not strategic materials, but added it will “prepare a manual to effectively control” such items.

Inter-Korean trade volume reached US$1.82 billion last year, the audit agency said. More than 186,000 South Koreans, not counting over 303,000 who toured North Korean resorts, visited North Korea for business and aid projects during the period, up 18 percent from the previous year, it said.

Read the full stories here:
Unification ministry closes N. Korea aid unit, bolsters intelligence
Kim Hyun

Audit agency questions lax monitoring of North Korea trade


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