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N. Koreans added to blacklist for first time in 5 years over missile threats

Passersby watch a TV report of North Korea`s missile launch at Seoul Station. (Yonhap)
Passersby watch a TV report of North Korea`s missile launch at Seoul Station. (Yonhap)

South Korea added 15 North Koreans and 16 companies to its blacklist on Friday, introducing its first unilateral sanctions in five years in response to the unprecedented number of missile provocations by the reclusive regime this year.

Seoul’s Foreign Ministry revealed the sanctions list of those that are all involved in sourcing funds and materials for Pyongyang’s development of weapons of mass destruction.

"We strongly condemn North Korea for its recent staging of the series of missile tests with unprecedented frequency, and for suggesting the use of tactical nukes against us," a Foreign Ministry official said.

"The latest unilateral sanctions is important in that, such a measure was taken for the first time in five years. It will not be the end as we are reviewing other subjects for sanctions in case the North carries out a serious provocation," the official said.

The 15 individuals added to the sanctions list are either affiliated to the North's Second Institute of Natural Science (Institute of Defense Sciences) or Ryonbong General Corp., entities that are subject to UN Security Council sanctions.

"We will be imposing additional unilateral sanctions against the North when it continues on with its provocations. We will also closely coordinate with the US, Japan, Australia and the European Union, and also other friendly nations to improve the effectiveness of the sanctions."

According to the ministry, a Korean national who intends to engage in financial or foreign exchange transactions with those subject to sanctions needs to get an approval from the Financial Services Commission or governor of Bank of Korea. Those who violate the sanctions to trade foreign exchange are subject to a maximum jail term of three years or a fine of 300 million won ($210,000); violation by financial trade are punishable by a jail term of up to three years and a fine of 30 million won.

On how effective these unilateral sanctions are, the ministry official said the UN sanctions and unilateral sanctions complement each other.

"It is regretful that a UN resolution (imposing sanctions against North Korea) failed to pass in May, but we will push again for the UN resolution in case of serious provocation from the North,” the official said.

The official also explained that it was South Korea’s own decision to introduce the unilateral sanctions, but it did coordinate with the US on the blacklist.

The North Koreans added to the blacklist Friday are mainly based outside North Korea and deliver supplies into the state, the official added.

So far, South Korea has put 89 entities -- 78 of them North Korean and 11 of them from other countries -- and 109 individuals of which 100 of them are North Koreans -- on its sanctions list.

The first time Seoul imposed unilateral sanctions was in June 2015, against four entities and three Taiwanese. In 2016, the country added more to its blacklist on two separate occasions, to respond to the North’s fourth and fifth nuclear tests carried out that year.

The country again imposed sanctions against North Korean individuals and entities in 2017, on two separate occasions, of Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test and a test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

By Jo He-rim (

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