The (South Korean) government which has been investigating into North Korean coal imports has found that two domestic companies and two financial institutions were involved in the case. The US government is considering to put the companies and financial institutions in question on the UN sanctions list for violating the UN Security Council resolution. In response, the South Korean government decided to file a complaint with the prosecutors for the companies in question and to report to UN Security Council Sanctions Committees on North Korea voluntarily.
A South Korean government official stated on 29th that, “During the process of importing North Korean coal into the country, the government identified two domestic companies and two financial institutions involved” and “Before the US government or the UN Security Council put the companies and financial institutions on the list of sanctions, we know that our government has decided to take action first.” The official did not comment on specific charges that apply to the companies and financial institutions involved with the case.
However the current Moon’s administration is being criticized that it did not take preventive measures against North Korean imports knowing in full that North Korean vessels are able to travel into South Korea ports under a flag of different nationality through a system called “flag of convenience”. It is very concerning that domestic companies will blamed and sanctioned from the international communities such as the United States in violation of the UN Security Council’s sanctions on North Korea amid sluggish follow-up negotiations on denuclearization of North Korea.
The panel report of experts from the UN Security Council’s sanctions committee revealed that the North Korean coal that recently moved from Russia was carried into the “Sky Angel” and “Rich Glory” and went into Incheon and Pohang in October last year. The Security Council adopted a resolution imposing sanctions on North Korea (No. 2371), which bans inports of North Korean coal in August last year.
According to an (American) diplomatic source “The United States has been closely monitoring the imports of North Korean coal into South Korea since last year, companies and financial institutions in question have been notified of the violations in January of this year,” The two companies in question claimed they had imported coal from Russia, not from North Korea. However it was reported that the US government did not take such claims into consideration showing evidence such as satellite data.
The Two financial institutions admitted being involved in processing financial transactions but South Korean government officials have confirmed that they did not know it was a deal related to North Korean coal.
According to South Korea’s ministry of foreign affairs statement, “the two financial institutions were only guided to cooperate by the Financial Supervisory Service which claimed that it is not a big deal.”