South Korea said Monday that it has put 18 North Korean individuals on its blacklist as part of its latest unilateral sanctions aimed at squeezing the flow of money to Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development programs.
The people on the new list include heads and ranking officials of five North Korean banks stationed in overseas countries such as China, Russia and Libya. The list was posted on the Seoul government's official gazette.
"Those individuals have worked overseas, representing North Korean banks and getting involved in supplying money needed to develop weapons of mass destruction," a foreign ministry official said.
The move comes after the North conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear blast test on Sept. 3 and is in line with the United Nations Security Council's Resolution 2375 adopted days later which focused mostly on curbing the North's imports of oil products.
The US and other major countries have announced their own sanctions against the North in line with the global body's resolution.
The latest sanctions by Seoul will likely be symbolic as there will be no practical impact since all transactions have been banned for years between the two Koreas. The 18 people are already on the blacklist announced by the US Treasury Department in September.
The government still expected that its unilateral sanctions will help squeeze money going into Pyongyang that could be used in advancing weapons of mass destruction programs and remind the world again of the danger of having any transactions with the blacklisted individuals.
The individuals on the list include Kang Min, representative of Korea Daesong Bank in China; Ri Un-song, representative of Korea United Development Bank in Russia; and Ku Ja-hyong, chief representative of the Foreign Trade Bank of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
It also hoped that the latest action will accelerate global efforts to implement existing sanctions that have been adopted against the North.
Seoul's standalone sanctions were announced a day before US President Donald Trump is to arrive in South Korea on Tuesday for a two-day stay during which he will have a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-in. North Korea and its evolving nuclear threat will be high on the agenda during their talks.
On Sunday, South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha and her US counterpart Rex Tillerson held a phone discussion to fine-tune preparations for the upcoming meeting between their leaders and expressed hope that it will demonstrate the ironclad alliance and highlight their close coordination to resolve North Korea's nuclear stalemate.
South Korea's unification ministry said that Seoul's move is expected to help cut off sources of foreign currency that can assist North Korea's weapons development.
"The sanctions are expected to help raise awareness about risks from trade with North Korea. They are also likely to encourage the international community to avert dubious business with the North and to be cautious about such a trade itself," Baik Tae-hyun, ministry spokesman, told a regular press briefing. (Yonhap)