S Korea sanctions more firms, N Korea individuals as tensions rise

The North’s defense minister and former military chief of staff are on the list
By Lee Jeong-Ho for RFA
Seoul, South Korea
S Korea sanctions more firms, N Korea individuals as tensions rise North Korean leader Kim Jong Un oversees a strategic cruise missile test aboard a navy warship in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 21, 2023.
KCNA via Reuters

South Korea on Thursday imposed unilateral sanctions on companies and North Korean individuals including the North’s defense minister – a move aimed at curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions that pose threats to the United States and its regional allies. 

The latest sanctions targeted two firms and 10 individuals involved in illegal financing of weapons of mass destruction programs, entailing arms trade with a third country including Russia, South Korea’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement. 

The sanctioned individuals include North Korea’s top military officials like its defense minister Kang Sun Nam and former Chief of Staff Pak Su Il.

Kang and Pak were among those who met Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu in July in the North Korean capital. The South Korean spy agency told lawmakers that Russia had proposed joint military drills involving North Korea and China during Shoigu’s visit to Pyongyang. 

The sanctions also target two institutions, Versor S.R.O. and GLOCOM for their involvement in arms deals with third countries, including Russia.

The new sanctions come as tensions rise following a North Korea-Russia summit last week where the two authoritarian nations vowed to strengthen military cooperation. They are also the twelfth time that the South, under President Yoon Suk Yeol, has issued sanctions against the North, raising the number sanctioned to 64 individuals and 53 institutions.

“We will continue to lead the international community’s efforts to block North Korea’s sanctions violations and evasion,” the South’s ministry said, adding that it would not “turn a blind eye to North Korea’s illegal activities that threaten our security."”

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

Edited by Elaine Chan and Mike Firn.


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