Spy agency says it reported NK coal import to presidential security office last October

By Yonhap
  • Published : Aug 28, 2018 - 17:36
  • Updated : Aug 28, 2018 - 17:36

South Korea’s spy chief told a parliamentary panel Tuesday his agency reported the import of North Korean coal to the presidential national security office last October, lawmakers said.

A monthslong probe by the customs office showed that three South Korean firms imported North Korean coal from Russia in apparent violation of UN sanctions resolutions. There is a controversy over whether the government turned a blind eye to the North Korean coal shipment amid a peace mood with Pyongyang.

Suh Hoon, the chief of the National Intelligence Service, told lawmakers at a closed-door meeting that the NIS reported the coal shipment to the Office of National Security under Cheong Wa Dae last October.

Korea Customs Service Deputy Commissioner Roh Suk-hwan presents the findings of an investigation regarding illegal entry of North Korean coal and pig iron into South Korean ports at a media briefing held at the government complex in Daejeon, Friday, Aug. 10. (Yonhap)

Suh was quoted as saying that he communicated the fact to the office though there was no direct report to President Moon Jae-in.

The customs office’s recent announcement has spurred controversy over whether South Korea is fully implementing UN sanctions on North Korea.

The North is banned from exporting coal, iron ore and other mineral resources under Resolution 2371 passed in August last year.

UN sanctions call for a country to capture and look into a vessel suspected of engaging in prohibited activities with North Korea.

South Korea recently reported the customs office’s probe outcome to the UN Security Council.

Meanwhile, the NIS said that it does not view the opening of an envisioned inter-Korean liaison office as constituting a violation of UN sanctions.

South Korea had planned to open the communication office in the North’s border city of Kaesong in August. But the plan was largely put off following the cancellation of US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo’s planned trip to the North.

“The liaison office is aimed at making regular contacts between the two Koreas. It will also help spur communications for (North Korea’s) denuclearization,” the NIS was quoted as saying. “About 20 to 30 personnel will likely stay there.”

The agency also added that North Korea has secured some 4.8 million metric tons of food, topping 85 percent of its aggregate demand, the NIS said.

“North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has ordered the implementation of measures to cope with droughts and an unprecedented heat wave has caused human casualties and curbed production,” it added. (Yonhap)