South Korea issues unilateral sanctions on North Korean firm, 5 individuals

Named individuals and company involved in illicit financing for weapons of mass destruction programs, said Seoul.
By Jeong-Ho Lee for RFA
Seoul, South Korea
South Korea issues unilateral sanctions on North Korean firm, 5 individuals People watch a television showing a news broadcast with a photo of a North Korean missile test, at a railway station in Seoul on August 31, 2023.

South Korea on Friday imposed unilateral sanctions on a North Korean company and five individuals involved in illicit financing for weapons of mass destruction programs in an effort to curtail Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions, which have posed threats to the United States and its regional allies.

New sanctions target the Ryu Kyung Program Development Company and its five officials, including the firm’s chief  Ryu Kyong-chol, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. 

South Korea became the first nation in the world to impose sanctions on the named individuals and company, joining other nations with independent blacklists relating to North Korea's weapons program, the ministry added. 

This marks the eleventh time the current Yoon Suk Yeol administration has imposed sanctions on North Korea, bringing the total to 54 individuals and institutions since October of last year. 

South Korean nationals must obtain permission from the governor of the Bank of Korea or the Financial Services Commission if they wish to engage in financial transactions with sanctioned firms or individuals.

The latest measure reflects Seoul’s efforts in synchronizing its diplomatic stance with the U.S. 

On Thursday, the U.S. Treasury sanctioned two individuals and a company accused of helping the North Korean regime raise funds for its ballistic missile program, a move that came just a week after Pyongyang’s failed attempt to launch what it described as a “satellite.”

“The measure is expected to further tighten the international sanctions network and deepen the coordination of North Korea policy among friendly countries,” South Korea’s foreign ministry said. 

It added that the new sanctions “demonstrate the government’s strong commitment to lead the international community’s efforts to prevent North Korea from developing satellites and unmanned aerial vehicles, evading sanctions, and financing its nuclear and missile programs.”

“Our government will continue to work closely with the United States, Japan, and the international community to ensure that North Korea learns this lesson, ceases its reckless provocations, and engages in dialogue on denuclearisation,” the ministry explained.

North Korea has been ramping up its military activities over the past few weeks. The country disclosed that it had performed a “scorched earth” nuclear strike simulation targeting South Korea on Thursday. Earlier in the same week, Kim Jong Un characterized the heads of the U.S., South Korea, and Japan as "gang bosses," which seems to hint at their recent summit on Aug.18 in Camp David, Maryland.

Edited by Taejun Kang and Mike Firn.


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