South Korea Targets 11 Vessels in Sanctions Over North Korea’s Illicit Maritime Activities

Seoul - South Korea has implemented sanctions on 11 vessels and five individuals and entities for their involvement in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of oil and other products to North Korea, intensifying measures against the North's maritime operations.

According to Yonhap News Agency, the foreign ministry announced that these sanctions are part of South Korea's ongoing efforts to hinder North Korea's unlawful acquisition of resources and funding for its nuclear and missile programs. This action represents the first time in nearly eight years that the South Korean government has sanctioned ships. The vessels sanctioned include Nam Dae Bong (formerly Diamond 8), New Konk, Unica, Xing Ming Yang 888, Subblic, A Bong 1 (formerly Heng Xing), Kyong Song 3 (formerly Anni), Liton, A Sa Bong (formerly Hai Jun), Gold Star, and Athena. These ships are suspected of engaging in transshipment with North Korean vessels, smuggling refined oil and coal into the North, and facilitating the trade of goods with North Korea.

All vessels have been mentioned in reports by the U.N. Panel of Experts from the Security Council sanctions committee on North Korea, with seven recommended for addition to the U.N. sanctions list. South Korea is the first country to sanction all these vessels, except for New Konk and Unica, which were previously sanctioned by the European Union in 2022.

The sanctions also target two North Korean individuals: Pak Kyong-ran, associated with Korea Paek Sol Trading Corp., suspected of purchasing used vessels and importing refined oil into North Korea, and Min Myong-hak, an executive at Risang Trading Co., allegedly involved in sending North Korean workers and managing ship-to-ship transfers. Additionally, Risang Trading, Mangang Trading Co., and Yua Trading Co. have been designated as entities subject to the sanctions.

These sanctions impose restrictions, including requiring special approval from South Korean authorities for the sanctioned vessels to enter the country's ports. The individuals and entities are prohibited from engaging in financial or foreign currency transactions without prior approval from the central bank or financial regulator.

This move by South Korea is in response to North Korea's long-standing practice of using maritime transport to circumvent U.N. Security Council sanctions, which were imposed due to its weapons programs. The recent sanctioning action is the 15th of its kind under the administration of President Yoon Suk Yeol.

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