The Korea Herald


N.K. sold fishing rights to China for $30m: NIS

By Shin Hyon-hee

Published : July 1, 2016 - 16:28

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North Korea has sold fishing rights totaling $30 million to China this year in a bid to earn hard currency that has dried up amid international sanctions, the National Intelligence Service told lawmakers on Friday.

The rampant poaching by Chinese fishing vessels has long been a thorny issue for Seoul every blue crab season as it wipes out fisheries in the West Sea and mars the livelihoods of residents on border islands.

Then the boats began violating neutral waters in the estuary of the Hangang River early last month, prompting the South to launch a joint crackdown with the U.N. Command.

“(The North) had sold fishing licenses worth $30 million to some 1,500 ships this year, which is about three times the average, to secure dollars,” Rep. Lee Wan-young of the ruling Saenuri Party who serves in the National Assembly’s intelligence committee said after a closed-door briefing by the spy agency.

“North Korean people, too, are unhappy because it has shrunk the catch and caused common complaints with their southern counterparts regarding worsening environmental damage such as from fuel oil sludge at sea.”

Four months on since the U.N. slapped new sanctions over Pyongyang’s latest nuclear and missile tests, the North’s exports of coal, which accounts for around 40 percent of its entire outbound shipment, have dropped 40 percent from a year ago, while its weapons sale abroad has plunged 88 percent, Lee said, without providing detailed figures.

The Security Council resolution entailed a sectoral ban for the first time on imports of North Korean coal, iron and iron ore except for “livelihood purposes.”

“But the sanctions’ impact on the financial sector is apparently not so satisfactory,” the lawmaker added. 

National Intelligence Director Lee Byung-ho (center) takes part in a briefing to the National Assembly on Friday. Yonhap National Intelligence Director Lee Byung-ho (center) takes part in a briefing to the National Assembly on Friday. Yonhap

On the health of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the NIS estimated that his weight has constantly increased, from about 90 kilograms in 2012 to 120 kilograms in 2014 to 130 kilograms more recently, according to the committee’s chairman Rep. Lee Cheol-woo.

The young ruler is believed to be “suffering from insomnia” and possibly some “lifestyle diseases” due to binge drinking and eating, the ruling party member told reporters.

The agency also raised the possibility for the North’s further liftoffs of Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missiles following a recent launch, which it said showed “technical progress” in terms of sharp-angle setup and flight safety.

“North Korea will likely continue firing them to improve their performance for combat deployment and for political purposes including boasting its technical capabilities to strike the U.S.,” Lee said, citing the NIS.

By Shin Hyon-hee (